Defining collaboration in Australian maternity care

Michelle L. Heatley, Sue Kruske

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Within maternity services, collaboration between maternity care professionals appears problematic in spite of widespread support for collaborative practice amongst stakeholders.

The objective of this paper was to examine and to clarify what the key elements of interprofessional collaboration are and how they relate to maternity care in Australia.

A review of the literature was performed to identify key characteristics of collaboration. All papers, theoretical and empirical, that discussed the concept of collaborative practice between professionals were considered.

Currently there are inconsistencies around the concept of collaboration in terms of definitions, characteristics and language. A comprehensive definition was developed that incorporates elements of collaboration suitable for the various professions involved in the provision of maternity care in Australia. The recently developed national criteria for ‘collaborative arrangements’ in maternity care, however, does not contain the elements of our proposed definition and may discourage collaboration between primary maternity care providers.

The proposed definition could be useful in further development of collaborative arrangements within maternity care and assist to further inform research on collaborative practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-57
Number of pages5
JournalWomen and Birth
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


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