A longitudinal mixed-methods study of IPE students’ perceptions of health profession groups: Revisiting the Contact Hypothesis

Barret Michalec, Carolyn Giordano, Sarah Dallas, Christine Arenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background/Purpose Despite the increasing momentum and integration of interprofessional education (IPE) programs into various health professions curriculum, the findings of previous research are mixed regarding the impact these programs have on dismantling or even stifling students’ stereotypes of health professions. Of those studies that find “positive” shifts in students’ perceptions, elements of the Contact Hypothesis are frequently employed to support these apparent shifts. However, there is minimal attention paid to how intergroup contact within IPE programs may actually impact students’ stereotypes. This study examines if students’ attitudes towards health professions shifted following participation in a two-year IPE program. Furthermore, utilizing the tenets of the Contact Hypothesis as well as prominent models regarding cognitive representations of group membership, this study explores how contact within the IPE program may have impacted students’ perceptions and attitudes. Methods To examine if students’ attitudes shifted, 528 students from 6 different health profession training programs completed the Student Stereotypes Rating Questionnaire (SSRQ) assessing their perceptions/stereotypes of their own and other health professions at the beginning and end of the two-year IPE program. To further explore students’ experiences and the nature of “contact” within the IPE program, interviewers were conducted with 20 students. Results Students’ attitudes of health professions did positively shift (i.e., stereotypes significantly decreased), and from the students’ perspective, as was evident in the interview data, the more informal aspects of the IPE program provided worthwhile opportunities to learn about students from other disciplines and other health professions. Conclusion The findings lend support for the Contact Hypothesis and the authors suggest that opportunities for students to informally interact and socialize may have significant positive impact on students’ perceptions and knowledge of other health disciplines and professions, and that models of cognitive representation that emphasize more personalization may also be effective tools in examining how intergroup contact within IPE affects students’ stereotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-79
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Interprofessional Education and Practice
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Contact Hypothesis
  • Interprofessional education
  • Mixed-methods
  • Theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'A longitudinal mixed-methods study of IPE students’ perceptions of health profession groups: Revisiting the Contact Hypothesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this