Social support experiences of students and clinicians with disabilities in health professions

Yael Mayer, Michal Shalev, Laura Nimmon, Terry Krupa, Laura Yvonne Bulk, Alfiya Battalova, Michael Lee, Tal Jarus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social support is vital in promoting the health, well-being, and performance of students and clinicians in health professions. Health settings' demanding and competitive nature imposes unique challenges on students and clinicians with disabilities. This paper aims to explore the trajectories and experiences of social support interactions amongst students and clinicians with disabilities in health professions. In a qualitative longitudinal study, 124 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 health students and 29 health clinicians with disabilities. Data analysis was informed by grounded theory as an adapted analytic approach involving constant comparisons. A few main characteristics of social support and trajectories in which social support is negotiated emerged from the data: (1) The need to be accepted and not questioned when asking for support, (2) Support interactions that do not heighten otherness, (3) Failure to acknowledge the challenges, (4) Interactions that support the process of disclosure (5) Interactions that allow mobilization of social support without strain or an extra effort. These findings have important implications for designing more supportive health professions, educational programs, and workplaces for people living with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-497
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Health Sciences Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Disabilities
  • Health professions educational programs
  • Inclusion
  • Social Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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