Competencies to promote collaboration between primary and secondary care doctors: An integrative review

Marijn Janssen*, Margaretha H. Sagasser, Cornelia R.M.G. Fluit, Willem J.J. Assendelft, Jacqueline De Graaf, Nynke D. Scherpbier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background: In a society where ageing of the population and the increasing prevalence of long-term conditions are major issues, collaboration between primary and secondary care is essential to provide continuous, patient-centred care. Doctors play an essential role at the primary-secondary care interface in realising 'seamless' care. Therefore, they should possess collaborative competencies. However, knowledge about these collaborative competencies is scarce. In this review we explore what competencies doctors need to promote collaboration between doctors at the primary-secondary care interface. Methods: We conducted an integrative literature review. After a systematic search 44 articles were included in the review. They were analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Results: We identified six themes regarding collaborative competencies: 'patient-centred care: a common concern', 'roles and responsibilities', 'mutual knowledge and understanding', 'collaborative attitude and respect', 'communication' and 'leadership'. In every theme we specified components of knowledge, skills and attitudes as found in the reviewed literature. The results show that doctors play an important role, not only in the way they collaborate in individual patient care, but also in how they help shaping organisational preconditions for collaboration. Conclusions: This review provides an integrative view on competencies necessary for collaborative practice at the primary-secondary care interface. They are part of several domains, showing the complexity of collaboration. The information gathered in this review can support doctors to enhance and learn collaboration in daily practice and can be used in educational programmes in all stages of medical education.

Original languageEnglish
Article number179
JournalBMC Family Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2-Sept-2020
Externally publishedYes


  • (intraprofessional) collaboration
  • Competencies
  • Doctors
  • Integrative review
  • Primary-secondary care interface

Cite this