Dizziness and Balance Disorders: An Interprofessional Approach
With nearly 40% of the general population experiencing some form of dizziness (including vertigo) in their lifetime, dizziness and balance disorders account for a significant portion of patient medical complaints. These disorders can have profound effects on an individual personally, financially, and medically. This includes increased psychiatric issues such as social phobia, an increased need for sick leave from work, and an increased morbidity and mortality, especially in the elderly, due to dizziness-related falls and subsequent immobility. Due to the complexity of dizziness and balance disorders, diagnosis and care are often difficult and require an interprofessional approach.
As a component of an interprofessional education curriculum, students enrolled in 7 different health professional programs (medicine, physician assistant, nursing, dental, dental hygiene, speech language pathology, and cardiovascular sonography) developed an interprofessional screening assessment tool that could sufficiently screen for the most common dizziness and balance disorders. Our team used evidence-based research to develop a comprehensive assessment that would serve to streamline the diagnosis of these disorders, ultimately providing more efficient and effective patient care. An interprofessional approach has the opportunity to improve patient outcomes through the understanding and knowledge of healthcare professional roles, as well as through a reduction in medical errors, duplication of services, and office visits. This assessment tool could additionally be expanded to include other healthcare professional fields, including audiologists, social workers physical therapists, and occupational therapists. The development of an interprofessional assessment tool emphasized the importance of an interprofessional approach to not only dizziness and balance disorders, but other common medical complaints as well. A collaborative, interprofessional approach in diagnosing dizziness and balance disorders is the key to patient satisfaction, reduced costs, and effective care in a large population of patients.