Understanding interprofessional relationships by the use of contact theory

J Interprof Care. 2012 Sep;26(5):370-5. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2012.673512. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Abstract

The importance and necessity of interprofessional collaboration (IPC) present challenges for educators as they determine how best to achieve IPC through interprofessional education (IPE). Simulation-based teaching has been shown to enhance students' understanding of professional roles and promote positive attitudes toward team members; yet, empirical evidence providing direction on the conditions necessary to promote these positive outcomes is lacking. This study used a quasi-experimental design with a pre-/post-test to examine changes in undergraduate healthcare students' perceptions and attitudes toward IPC following their participation in an interprofessional simulation program. Allport's (1954) intergroup contact theory was used to help understand the nature of this IPE workshop and its reported outcomes. Participants included students in the final year of their respective programs (n = 84) such as pharmacy technician, paramedic, nursing and occupational therapy assistant/physical therapy assistant programs. These students were engaged in simulation exercises with interactive contact opportunities. Using the interdisciplinary education perceptions scale, statistically significant increases in positive attitudes in three of four sub-scales were found. An analysis of the structure and format of the workshop suggests that this IPE initiative fulfilled the key conditions suggested by intergroup contact theory. Attention to the key conditions provided by Allport's theory in the context of successful intergroup relationships may help provide direction for educators interested in planning IPE initiatives with student groups enrolled in various health programs.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Data Collection
  • Education, Professional
  • Female
  • Health Occupations / education
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Male
  • Patient Care Team
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Social Identification
  • Students, Health Occupations / psychology*
  • Young Adult