Group work in a health promotion subject: the role of compassion for oneself, toward others, and from others
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The University of Queensland, School of Public Health, Australia
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A728
Background and Objective:
It is argued that health promotion knowledge is developed through active participation. A key component of group work is to promote such active and engaged thinking through shared problem-solving. Our research objective was to understand students’ experiences of group work in an undergraduate health promotion subject, particularly how they were related to experience of a multi-dimensional conceptualisation of compassion.

Two cohorts of a health promotion subject within an Australian Bachelor of Health Sciences program were surveyed (online, N=42); from Semester 1, 2020 and 2021. Measures included feelings towards group work (preference for group work, individual work, and discomfort with group work) as well as compassion (towards oneself, others, and from others) reflecting both motivation to engage with the distress and to take action and to cope with the distress.

Positive feelings towards group work was associated with perceiving greater compassion from others as well as primary language, English. A preference for individual work was associated with avoiding classes with group work (though discomfort with group work was not). Discomfort was associated with a desire to stay quiet in groups, though preference for either group or individual work was not associated with staying quiet. Positive feelings toward group work was associated with more self- compassion but not to provide compassion or to receive compassion.

While complicated by pivoting from online to face-to-face through the semesters (due to COVID-19 lockdowns) and a small sample, we find that it is compassion for oneself, and the motivation to sit with one’s own difficult feelings, that are associated with positive perceptions of group work in a health promotion subject. Suggesting that student services and support may play a key role in engagement with tasks that encourage shared problem-solving and which might help develop skills ultimately needed in multi-disciplinary practice.

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