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Examining the Influence of Academic Degree Level on Health Care Providers’ Perceptions of Interprofessional Collaboration: A pilot study

Examining the Influence of Academic Degree Level on Health Care Providers’ Perceptions of Interprofessional Collaboration: A pilot study

Purpose: Health care provider perceptions of interprofessional collaboration (IPC) have been well documented, however barriers to provider participation persist. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine differences in health care providers’ perceptions of IPC based on the academic degree level.Methods: Licensed health care providers with faculty appointments at a four-year university-based setting were invited to participate in an electronic survey. Attitudinal questions in the survey instrument were based on the Theory of Planned Behavior and the Social Cognitive Theory and assessed perceptions, attitudes, norms, and self-efficacy toward IPC. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data.Results: Respondents (n=179) included faculty in medicine (29%), dentistry (23%), nursing (13%), dental hygiene (11%), physical therapy (8%), and pharmacy (7%). Ninety percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that IPC is important for improving patient health outcomes. Respondents across all degree levels were significantly more comfortable taking recommendations on patient treatment from another health care provider with a doctoral degree as compared to a health care provider with an associate degree, with mean scores declining from 5.58 to 4.58 (p=0.000).Conclusion: While all respondents valued IPC in improving patient outcomes, their perceptions of other health care providers’ level of academic degree may play a role in their willingness to truly collaborate with them. Despite an institution’s positive culture of IPC, bias and stereotypes regarding the level of academic degree need to be addressed. Results indicate that while health care providers with lower academic degrees may be valuable contributors to the IPC team, their academic degree could be a barrier to their meaningful inclusion.

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