Social Representations of Health in Allied Health Professional Students and Lecturers

  • O. Kada
  • H. Penz
  • W. Wiedermann
  • U. Frick


Current challenges of the healthcare system call for interdisciplinary cooperation of health professionals. The university is responsible for disposing students accordingly. Social representations theory was used as a framework for studying the social representations of health of allied health professional students and faculty. Study 1: Students (N = 465) completed a pile sorting task (sorting 142 health terms according to perceived similarity). Non-parametric multidimensional scaling yielded three essential dimensions: individual vs. system, therapy vs. prevention, and health threats vs. controllability (Kada et al., 2013). Study 2: Leading items from each dimension were presented to 131 lecturers in pairwise comparisons of health terms’ importance for education (N = 8724 completed paired comparisons). Conditional logistic regression models were applied for analysis. Judged importance was highest for terms covering specific duties of lecturers own professions (McFadden's LRI = 0.127). Thus, interdisciplinarity was not regarded a key element of education. Results call for and may support the creation of learning environments enabling students to think outside the box of their own professions.
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