Background: Healthcare is generally provided by various health professionals acting together. Unfortunately, poor communication and collaboration within such healthcare teams often prevent its members from actively engaging in collaborative decision-making. Interprofessional education (IPE) which prepares health professionals for their collaborative role in the healthcare system may partially address this problem. This study aimed to investigate: 1) students' readiness for IPE in an Asian context, 2) the most important factors influencing students' perceptions of IPE, 3) the reasons underlying such perceptions, and 4) the factors mitigating or promoting their sense of readiness. Methods: To identify students' perceptions of IPE, we administered the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS) to 398 in approximately 470 students from a range of health professions (medicine, nursing, midwifery and dentistry). The questionnaire included factors that could potentially influence readiness for IPE as found in the literature (GPA, etc.). To enhance our understanding of the responses to the RIPLS and to explore the reasons underlying them, we conducted 4 mono-professional focus group discussions (FGDs). We ran a statistical analysis on the quantitative data, while performing a thematic content analysis of the qualitative data using ATLAS.ti (version 7). Results: Medical students seemed to be the most prepared for IPE. Students' perceptions of IPE were conditioned by the study programme they took, their GPA, intrinsic motivation and engagement in the student council connoting experience of working with students from different programmes. Focus groups further revealed that: 1) early exposure to clinical practice triggered both positive and negative perceptions of IPE and of its importance to learning communication and leadership skills, 2) medical students caused insecurity and disengagement in other students, 3) medical students felt pressured to be leaders, and 4) there was a need to clarify and understand each other's profession and the boundaries of one's own profession. Conclusion: Students were generally favourable to IPE, appreciating the opportunity it offered them to hone their interprofessional leadership, collaboration and communication skills and to learn to address the problem of role blurring. Hence, we judge the Asian context ready to implement IPE, allowing health professions students in Asian countries to reap its benefits. The present study revealed several important reasons underlying students' positive and negative perceptions of IPE implementation which may be addressed during the interprofessional learning process.
- Interprofessional education (IPE)
- Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS)
- Interprofessional collaboration
- Role blurring