Medical Student Perceptions of Medical School Education About Suffering: A Multicenter Pilot Study

Family medicine (Impact Factor: 1.17). 01/2014; 46(1):39-44.
Source: PubMed


Little is known about what students perceive they are taught about suffering in medical school. We sought to explore medical student perceptions of their medical school education about suffering.
We used an online survey of medical students enrolled in four US medical schools with chi-square analysis of responses by gender and preclinical/clinical status.
A total of 1,043 students (38%) responded and indicated that teaching about suffering is occurring in the schools surveyed. Respondents most strongly endorsed statements that their medical school education explicitly teaches that the relief of suffering is an inherent function of being a physician (46.5%) and that most of what they learned about dealing with suffering patients is taught by modeling (46.6%). They reported that their education explicitly teaches about suffering (32.8%), provides a good understanding of suffering (31.7%), and teaches how to interact with suffering patients (31.7%). Students gave the least support to statements that their education prepares them to personally deal with their reactions to the suffering of patients (25.1%) and teaches how to diagnose suffering (15.3%). Responses varied markedly according to gender and clinical status at two of the four schools surveyed.
Teaching about suffering is occurring in the schools surveyed and can be variably experienced according to gender and clinical status. Implied curricular gaps include teaching about how to diagnose suffering and how to personally deal with the feelings that arise when caring for suffering patients. Further research on how students are learning about suffering is warranted to guide curriculum development and implementation.

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Available from: Thomas R Egnew, May 05, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Background: A key tool for use in approaching chronic pain treatment is educating patients to reconceptualize pain. Thus, health professionals are fundamental to the transmission of pain information to patients. Because their understanding of pain is acquired during the educational process, the aim of this study was to compare the knowledge about pain neurophysiology in first and final-year students from three different health science programs at a single University to determine their gain in knowledge using a well-known questionnaire designed to evaluate the understanding of pain. Methods: The Neurophysiology of Pain Questionnaire (19 closed-ended questions) was administered to students in their first and final years of study in Medicine, Physiotherapy, or Nutrition. The percentage of correct responses was determined and comparisons of the results were analyzed between the programs as well as between the first and final years of study within each program. For all tests, p-values were two-sided, and results with p-values below 0.05 were considered statistically significant. Results: The participation rate was greater than 51 % (n = 285). The mean percentage of correct responses, reported as mean (SD), among the first year students was 42.14 (12.23), without significant statistical differences detected between the programs. The mean percentages of correct responses for students in their final year were as follows: Medicine, 54.38 (13.87); Physiotherapy, 68.92 (16.22); Nutrition, 42.34 (10.11). We found statistically significant differences among all three programs and between the first and final years in Medicine and Physiotherapy. A question-by-question analysis showed that the percentage of correct responses for questions related to the biopsychosocial aspects of pain was higher for students in Physiotherapy than those in Medicine. Conclusions: Students in their final years of Medicine and Physiotherapy programs know more about the neurophysiology of pain than students in their first years of these programs, however there are some questions where first years students have better results. Physiotherapy students have greater knowledge of neurophysiology of pain than Medicine students, especially the biopsychosocial aspects. Even so, their understanding may not be sufficient and does not guarantee an approach to chronic pain that will help patients reconceptualize their pain.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · BMC Research Notes