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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 328-332

Readiness for interprofessional learning among dental undergraduate students: An institutional study

1 Department of Public Health Dentistry, SRM Dental College and Hospital, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Sri Siddhartha Dental College and Hospital, Tumkur, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Public Health Dentistry, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences, Dental College, Lamphelpat, Imphal, Manipur, India
4 Department of Public Health Dentistry, JSS Dental College and Hospital, Mysore, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission02-Mar-2018
Date of Acceptance28-Sep-2018
Date of Web Publication29-Nov-2018

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Darshana Bennadi
Department of Public Health Dentistry, Sri Siddhartha Dental College and Hospital, Sri Siddhartha University, Tumkur, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jiaphd.jiaphd_59_18

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Introduction: In today's health-care services, there is no clear-cut role of each profession. These roles have been shaded or blended with the roles of each other professions, which shows an interconnection between each profession. Interprofessional learning is an approach of learning with each other's professional knowledge and skills. This type of learning will be helpful for the students to enhance their knowledge, skills, interaction, and provision of health-care services. Aim: The objective of this study was to assess the attitude of dental undergraduate students toward interprofessional learning. Materials and Methods: This descriptive questionnaire study was conducted on dental undergraduate students in Mysore city. A total of 250 dental students were selected using stratified random sampling method. Data were collected using a questionnaire on Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale. Results: Among the 250 dental undergraduate students who completed the survey, 27.6% (n = 69) were males and 72.4% (n = 181) were females. Nearly 84% (n = 210) showed positive attitude toward team work and collaboration as a result of shared learning and 16% (n = 40) had negative attitude. When asked about their view toward professional identity, 85.6% (n = 214) felt that interprofessional learning will help them understand their professional identity better and 15.4% (n = 36) disagreed it. Conclusion: Dental undergraduate students in general have a positive view toward interprofessional learning.

Keywords: Education, health professionals, interprofessional learning, multiprofessional learning

How to cite this article:
Sibyl S, Bennadi D, Kshetrimayum N, Reddy C. Readiness for interprofessional learning among dental undergraduate students: An institutional study. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent 2018;16:328-32

How to cite this URL:
Sibyl S, Bennadi D, Kshetrimayum N, Reddy C. Readiness for interprofessional learning among dental undergraduate students: An institutional study. J Indian Assoc Public Health Dent [serial online] 2018 [cited 2021 Jun 13];16:328-32. Available from: https://www.jiaphd.org/text.asp?2018/16/4/328/246360

  Introduction Top

At present, we are coming across many chronic and multifactorial-related diseases. Hence, it is not possible for any health professional to address these issues individually. In today's health-care services, there is no clear-cut role of each profession. The roles have been shaded or blended with the roles of other professions, which shows an interconnection between each profession. Any health professional needs to address the issues/diseases from the point of evidence-based practice, which needs to be familiar with other profession's knowledge. Hence, he or she has to learn the skill of communicating with his colleagues/other professionals, practicing team-based service to improve the quality of care. Health-care service is not only concentrating on disease, but also the whole health factors of patients such as mental, social, behavioral, and psychological. Hence, this requires interprofessional education (IPE) to learn the basic skills in providing quality care to the patient.[1],[2]

Oral health is a part of general health. But till today, most of the professionals think it as a separate entity. It might be due to the method of practicing dentistry. Hence, oral health was at most neglected in their provision of health-care services. However, the trend is changing with the inseparable concept of oral and general health. Moreover, to improve the quality of health care and benefits for patient, there is a need for team-based practice. This can be brought through IPE or learning during their foundation period. It will help them to develop the qualities required for team work or collaborative network among health professionals.[3],[4]

IPE is defined as “two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care.”[5],[6] IPE is the process of learning in a systematic manner by sharing the knowledge and skills of different professions.[3]

IPE provides foundation for health-care students from various disciplines before starting with their workforce. It gives an opportunity for students to interchange their views, approach, and treatment plans as well as to have a good interrelationship with same and other professions. With this type of education, students' critical thinking aptitude and learning styles can be improved which directly helps in the betterment of quality of health care.[7] IPE enables nondental health professionals to understand the relationship between oral health and overall health and quality of life. It also promotes an appreciation for the role of the dental team in preventive care and the importance of screening and referral for various oral diseases and conditions.

Recent studies have shown that prior experience with interprofessional learning helps in improving professional identity and attitudes toward teamwork. Collaborative work will reduce the duplication and proper usage of resources as well. Some studies have shown that undergraduate level is the best time for interprofessional learning that helps the students to develop positive attitudes for their future professional life.[7] Hence, this survey had been undertaken to assess the attitudes/perception and barrier of interprofessional learning among dental undergraduate students.

  Materials and Methods Top

The study was carried out at a dental college and hospital, Mysore, Karnataka, India. The undergraduate course is 4 years with 1 year of compulsory rotatory internship. Permission was obtained from the Ethical Committee and the head of the institution prior to initiating the study.

Study design

A descriptive questionnaire survey was conducted among undergraduate dental students in Mysore city. With a target population of 600 undergraduate dental students in Mysore city, the estimated sample size was calculated to be 83. To ensure adequate sample size in light of anticipated nonresponsive rates, this estimate was tripled leading to a final sample size estimate of 250. By stratified random sampling, fifty students were selected randomly from all the 5 years of undergraduate students. Sample size was calculated via a construct variable defined as achieving ≥80% on a set of attitude-based questions, by expecting 50% of respondents to achieve this score (with a 10% margin of error) and setting α = 0.05.

The sample size was calculated using the following formula:

t = Expected − worst acceptable frequency

Inclusion criteria

Students who were present on the day of survey and gave informed consent were included in the study.

This descriptive survey involves assessment of students' attitude toward interprofessional learning. Hence, response was collected using a questionnaire developed by Parsell and Bligh[8] on Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS). The RIPLS[8] is a 19-item, 5-point Likert scale, self-reporting tool that assesses the perceptions of health-care students' knowledge, skills, and attitudes regarding readiness to learn with other health-care professionals. It is divided into the following three validated subscales:

  • Subscale 1: Team work and collaboration
  • Subscale 2: Professional identity
  • Subscale 3: Roles and responsibilities.

The teamwork/collaboration subscale assesses the valuing of cooperative learning and respecting students from other health-care professionals and the negative professional identity subscale measures the tendency of an individual to value and benefit from collaborative relationships with other health-care professionals. The roles and responsibilities subscale measures the practical application of interprofessional skills with other health-care professional students. Both subscale scores and total scores can be rated. Overall, high scores indicate a more positive attitude toward interprofessional learning experiences. It can be used to measure responses to specific interprofessional learning experiences or formatively for planning IPE activities.[8] A survey was conducted for 3 weeks and it took approximately 8 min for the participants to complete the questionnaire.

Statistical analysis

All the data were subjected to analysis using SPSS version 17.0 (SPSS Inc., South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL, USA) where descriptive statistics and ANOVA were used. P < 0.05 was considered statistically significant.

  Results Top

The response rate was 100%; 27.6% (n = 69) of respondents were males and 72.4% (n = 181) were females. Nearly 84% (n = 210) showed positive attitude toward team work and collaboration as a result of shared learning and 16% (n = 40) had negative attitude. When asked about their view toward professional identity, 85.6% (n = 214) felt that interprofessional learning will help them understand their professional identity better and 15.4% (n = 36) disagreed it [Table 1] and [Table 2]. There was no statistically significant difference between the groups (P = 0.30). Almost 75.2% of respondents showed their agreed response for interprofessional learning [Graph 1].
Table 1: Distribution of institutional dental students according to their responses to the readiness for interprofessional learning Scale Questionnaire

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Table 2: Distribution of participants based on responses to Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Scale (RIPLS)

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  Discussion Top

This study showed that dental students (participants) had positive attitude toward shared learning, which shows their agreement that interprofessional learning method will improve the work efficiency and better understanding of the participant. Similar response was present in other studies conducted by Stephanie Chan et al.,[9] Cashman et al.,[10] and Wilcock et al.[11] The results signify improved communication and cooperation between groups.

However, studies by Reeves[12] and Dalton et al.[13] were contradictory to our study. This might be due to unawareness regarding different health professionals' duties, institutional constraints, and time constraints to implement the changes, planning, and resource difficulties.[14]

Some of the studies suggested that IPE or learning should be imparted before the students enter their clinical level.[15] This will prevent the development of negative attitudes and make them learn about evidence-based and team-based practice in the future. This will also help the students to inculcate some social and ethical responsibilities toward their practice.[15],[16] Studies[17],[18] have shown the effective role of IPL in increasing the knowledge and skills of health-care professions as well as providing opportunities for working as a multidisciplinary team. Frequently, the effectiveness of team work depends on team leader, who should be dictated by the context in which the team operates and this may not necessarily be the doctor.[19] Providing a balanced membership in the team and ensuring that the course is attractive to learners through its contact and relevance are effective factors that should be considered prior to implementing shared learning programs. The prestige, status, and experience of participants should also be taken into account.[15] Including such programs regarding shared learning and increased teamwork helps to render the quality of health care.

Barriers to interprofessional learning

However, the implementation of IPE, particularly experiences requiring multiple hours of student interaction over several weeks or months, faces numerous institutional challenges. These include institutional leadership support, timetable and scheduling differences across programs, access to classrooms of appropriate size and number, sufficient numbers of trained faculty to facilitate educational sessions, and assimilation into curricular structures.[20],[21],[22]

Limitation of the study

The limitation of the study includes small sample of dental students of one dental college which is not entirely representative of Indian dental students. Studies which involve the use of questionnaires entail bias. Further studies are essential to explore the effectiveness of IPE at different levels.

  Conclusion Top

Dental undergraduate students have positive attitudes toward learning with other professional students and improve their knowledge and skills, which is a requisite for benefits of the patient or the community as a whole.


We acknowledge Dr. Sunitha S for her guidance.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Duncan M, Alperstein M, Mayers P, Olckers L, Gibbs T. Not just another multi-professional course! Part 1. Rationale for a transformative curriculum. Med Teach 2006;28:59-63.  Back to cited text no. 1
Takami M, Ayumi T, Tokie A, Eriko T, Tetsuhiro M, Akira H. Japanese student's perception of their learning from an interprofessional education program: A qualitative study. Int J Med Educ 2013;4:9-17.  Back to cited text no. 2
Hood K, Cant R, Baulch J, Gilbee A, Leech M, Anderson A, et al. Prior experience of interprofessional learning enhances undergraduate nursing and healthcare students' professional identity and attitudes to teamwork. Nurse Educ Pract 2014;14:117-22.  Back to cited text no. 3
Curran VR, Sharpe D, Forristall J. Attitudes of health sciences faculty members towards interprofessional teamwork and education. Med Educ 2007;41:892-6.  Back to cited text no. 4
Stone J. Interprofessional Collaborative Practice – Definitions and Terminology: Attempting to Speak the Same Language. Canberra: ACT Health; 2009.  Back to cited text no. 5
Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education. Interprofessional Education: A Definition. London: CAIPE; 1997.  Back to cited text no. 6
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Parsell G, Bligh J. The development of a questionnaire to assess the readiness of health care students for interprofessional learning (RIPLS). Med Educ 1999;33:95-100.  Back to cited text no. 8
Chan S, Karen T, Vincent LC, Lauren DM, Glen O, Bruce W, et al. Dissecting through barriers: findings from a pilot study on the effect of interprofessional education in a gross anatomy course. MUMJ 2011;8:11-5.  Back to cited text no. 9
Cashman S, Reidy P, Cody K, Lemay C. Developing and measuring progress toward collaborative, integrated, interdisciplinary health care teams. J Interprof Care 2004;18:183-96.  Back to cited text no. 10
Wilcock PM, Campion-Smith C, Head M. The Dorset Seedcorn project: Interprofessional learning and continuous quality improvement in primary care. Br J Gen Pract 2002;52Suppl:S39-44.  Back to cited text no. 11
Reeves S. Community-based interprofessional education for medical, nursing and dental students. Health Soc Care Community 2000;8:269-76.  Back to cited text no. 12
Dalton L, Spencer J, Dunn M, Albert E, Walker J, Farrell G, et al. Re-thinking approaches to undergraduate health professional education: Interdisciplinary rural placement program. Collegian 2003;10:17-21.  Back to cited text no. 13
Horsburgh M, Lamdin R, Williamson E. Multiprofessional learning: The attitudes of medical, nursing and pharmacy students to shared learning. Med Educ 2001;35:876-83.  Back to cited text no. 14
Hossein D, Mandana S, Seyed AY. Interprofessional learning: The attitudes of medical, nursing and pharmacy students to shared learning at Tehran University of Medical Sciences. Thrita J Med Sci 2012;1:44-8.  Back to cited text no. 15
Areskog NH. The need for multiprofessional health education in undergraduate studies. Med Educ 1988;22:251-2.  Back to cited text no. 16
Davies C. Getting health professionals to work together. BMJ 2000;320:1021-2.  Back to cited text no. 17
Lowry S. Trends in health care and their effects on medical education. BMJ 1993;306:255-8.  Back to cited text no. 18
Reid T, David A. Primary care nursing. Community nursing practice management and teamwork. Nurs Times 1994;90:42-5.  Back to cited text no. 19
Ho K, Jarvis-Selinger S, Borduas F, Frank B, Hall P, Handfield-Jones R, et al. Making interprofessional education work: The strategic roles of the academy. Acad Med 2008;83:934-40.  Back to cited text no. 20
Lavin MA, Ruebling I, Banks R, Block L, Counte M, Furman G, et al. Interdisciplinary health professional education: A historical review. Adv Health Sci Educ Theory Pract 2001;6:25-47.  Back to cited text no. 21
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  [Table 1], [Table 2]


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