A randomized, controlled study to assess if allopathic-osteopathic collaboration influences stereotypes, interprofessional readiness, and doctor-patient communication

Despite the growing similarities between allopathic (MD) and osteopathic (DO) medical education, few studies have examined allopathic-osteopathic collaboration. The following study focused on stereotypes and student readiness for interprofessional learning. Patient perceptions were also evaluated. Osteopathic and allopathic students were randomly allocated 1:1:1 to work in pairs (MD/DO, MD/MD, DO/DO) at the start of each shift. A questionnaire evaluating student communication was collected from patients at the end of each encounter. Surveys assessing stereotypes and interprofessional readiness were obtained from students at the end of each workday. Data collection was stopped early due to Coronavirusrelated safety measures. In the ITT analysis, there were a total of 126 participants (57 students 69 patients). A per-protocol analysis was performed to account for repeat clinic volunteers. No significant differences were detected between student pairs; however, the sensitivity analysis of the questionnaire assessing interprofessional readiness was 8 points higher in the DO/DO group compared to the MD/MD and MD/DO groups (P = 0.0503). In the content analysis of qualitative responses, the MD/DO group was more likely to respond with themes of enjoyment and less concern about stereotypes than the DO/DO group. The MD/DO group was also less likely to report concerns about differences in expectations, methods, and thinking than the MD/MD group. Early trends from this study suggest that DO students may be better positioned to engage in interprofessional learning than their MD counterparts. Additionally, the findings from our content analysis provide evidence that the collaborative experience improved feelings associated with professional legitimacy and credibility among DO students. Taken in aggregate, this study provides justification for a follow-up investigation, as well as a framework for how such studies could best be executed in the future.

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