Holistic Approaches to Problem-solving and Decision-making in Patient Care – Inter- and Trans-disciplinary
Reynaldo O. Joson, MD, MHA, MHPEd, MSc Surg
January 20, 2012
The desire to provide a more holistic problem-solving and decision-making in patient care has led many to have a closer look at disciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches.
Currently, most people would still use multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches interchangeably with no or little distinction to mean the use of different disciplines or specialties to provide holistic problem-solving and decision-making in patient care. However, there are now more and more people putting significant distinctions among the three terms.
The differences between and among disciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary approaches are illustrated in the diagram below.
As can be derived from the diagram, because of the presence of combination and simultaneous use of several disciplines or specialties, the inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches are considered holistic at best. In interdisciplinary approach, there is some amount of integration of various disciplines or specialties used in the problem-solving and decision-making in patient care. In the transdisciplinary approach, there is a greater amount of integration and extensive use of the various disciplines or specialties within and beyond their boundaries in the problem-solving and decision-making.
A simple way to remember the distinction among the different terms, particularly, inter-and trans-disciplinary is to look for presence of integration among various disciplines and specialties and its extent – no integration in disciplinary and multidisciplinary; integration is most extensive in trans-disciplinary.
NOTE: The current trend is towards a transdisciplinary approach.
Here is an exerpt from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/difference-between-transdisciplinary-team-multidisciplinary-team-18762.html to better understand a transdisciplinary approach.
“A transdisciplinary team allows members to contribute their own knowledge and expertise, but efforts are collective in determining best ideas or approaches. When transdisciplinary teams are used in health care, providers from multiple disciplines collaborate and share ideas from the beginning to create a total health care plan that covers all necessary diagnoses and treatment for a patient. For instance, someone recovering from serious physical trauma may require close collaboration between medical doctors, therapists and mental health care providers in the recovery.”