How Intersectoral Health Promotion Changes Professional Work: A Case Study from Denmark

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Loni LEDDERER, Aarhus University, Denmark
Mads CHRISTENSEN, Aarhus Universitet, Denmark
Healthcare organisations increasingly focus on intersectoral health promotion; this challenges traditional (vertical) ways of working with health promotion, which the work of health professions has been molded into. Intersectoral health promotion emerges a critical case for studying what is new in professional work; the new tasks professions take on and the new relations professions enter. Our specific aim is to examine how professions engage in intersectoral health promotion and how this changes their work.

Our analysis is based on a qualitative case study of a cookery project for school children and nursing home residents in Denmark (‘Cool Beans’) that involved school teachers and care assistants. Our data consisted of documents (project descriptions, teaching material, and website information), participant observation and informal in-situ interviews, and interviews with individual professionals. We used a sociological institutional framework to analyse the professional work practices emerging in joint care and teaching situations.

We found that interorganisational health promotion to some extent challenges the existing institutional roles of care assistants and teachers; the cookery sessions push the two professional groups to engage in interprofessional collaboration. Both groups adopt a strategy of ‘collaboration by proxy’: they not only continue with their respective professional work practice, but also engage as ‘assistants’ for the other professional group. The new organisation of health promotion emerges as a key lever for changing the professional work of teachers and school assistants. This suggests that changes in organisations and the new tasks that follow may offer an important stepping stone for making professionalism more interprofessional in nature.