Multidisciplinary treatment

Author: Jane Meijlink

Last Updated: April 2018

Current definition:

Multidisciplinary approach: relating to, or involving, two or more disciplines that are usually considered distinct, e.g., physical therapy, urology, gynecology. (1).

Definitions from other societies

In October 2017, the IASP Council approved new definitions aimed at clarifying terminology for different multicomponent treatment approaches as a result of concerns expressed about potential confusion in the terminology often used to describe approaches to treating chronic pain. (2,3).

These definitions are as follows:

Unimodal treatment is defined as a single therapeutic intervention directed at a specific pain mechanism or pain diagnosis. For example: the application of exercise treatment by a physiotherapist.

Multimodal treatment is defined as the concurrent use of separate therapeutic interventions with different mechanisms of action within one discipline aimed at different pain mechanisms. For example: the use of pregabalin and opioids for pain control by a physician; the use of NSAID and orthosis for pain control by a physician.

Multidisciplinary treatment is defined as multimodal treatment provided by practitioners from different disciplines. For example: the prescription of an anti-depressant by a physician alongside exercise treatment from a physiotherapist, and cognitive behavioural treatment by a psychologist, all the professions working separately with their own therapeutic aim for the patient and not necessarily communicating with each other.

Interdisciplinary treatment is defined as multimodal treatment provided by a multidisciplinary team collaborating in assessment and treatment using a shared biopsychosocial model and goals. For example: the prescription of an anti-depressant by a physician alongside exercise treatment from a physiotherapist, and cognitive behavioural treatment by a psychologist, all working closely together with regular team meetings (face to face or online), agreement on diagnosis, therapeutic aims and plans for treatment and review.

Discussion

The terms above are commonly used in documents today and may lead to misunderstanding and confusion if not clearly defined. It is suggested that the ICS adopt similar definitions to clarify the differences in treatment type.

References:

  1. Bo K, Frawley HC, Haylen BT, Abramov Y, Almeida FG, Berghmans B, Bortolini M, Dumoulin C, Gomes M, McClurg D, Meijlink J, Shelly E, Trabuco E, Walker C, Wells A. An International Urogynecological Association (IUGA)/International Continence Society (ICS) joint report on the terminology for the conservative and nonpharmacological management of female pelvic floor dysfunction. Neurourol Urodyn. 2017 Feb;36(2):221-244. doi: 10.1002/nau.23107. Epub 2016 Dec 5.
  2. https://www.iasp-pain.org/PublicationsNews/NewsDetail.aspx?ItemNumber=6981
  3. https://www.iasp-pain.org/Taxonomy#Unimodaltreatment
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