Educational Theories in Interprofessional Health Education: Brief Reflection
Background: The Interprofessional Health Education (IPE) is expanding in Brazilian Health Higher Education despite the dominance of teaching for specific competences in each health profession. In order to strengthen IPE, it is necessary to include this approach in the courses’ curricula, with a clear intentionality about their theoretical-methodological precepts. Thus, we raise a question: which educational theories have been used in the IPE field?. The aim is to reflect how interprofessional education can be guided by educational theories.
Methodology: Reflective study based on international publications about theoretical approach in the IPE field. The reflections were grounded by papers that presented or discussed the use of educational theories in IPE. The databases used were SCOPUS, ERIC and Medline/PubMed, carried out in May 2021.There were not Brazilian studies identified.
Results: Two educational approaches have frequently been used in IPE studies: Behaviorism, which focuses on behavior changes, and Constructivism, which considers the learning process essential for the results. Within Constructivism, some studies cited Andragogy, but without relating it to the constructivist approach. Andragogy represents a context in which Piaget’s constructivist theory can be applied, yet it is not enough to support the team learning, a type of dynamic system. From Vygotsky and Paulo Freire, contributions about social interaction and learning with Sociocultural Theory emerge. Besides the possibility to support the comprehension about individual learning level, Constructivism can also be applied for understanding the complex systems among many educational curricula. In that case, the Cultural-Historical Activity Theory was identified in the studies. The social component is what makes the difference between the uniprofessional learning and the interprofessional learning, thus constructivist theories show an interesting connection with IPE. Despite that, there is not a gold standard to choosing an educational theory for IPE. It is necessary to consider the contexts and the purposes in IPE curricula.
Conclusion: The theories most used come from Behaviorism and Constructivism. It is relevant to advance in the discussions about the limitations in each educational approach in the IPE field. Although Constructivism shows a connection to IPE, our intention is only to start a reflection for a systematic discussion about the topic. Therefore, we understand that it is relevant to invest in more robust studies in this field, especially in Brazil.
Implications: A theoretical framework can enable the development of assertive answers for designing IPE curricula, which can increase the chances to explore the influences of the adopted designs.