Office of Educational Affairs, Division of Research and Evaluation; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Department of Physiology; Department of Psychiatry
Medical Subject Headings
Education, Medical, Undergraduate; Disabled Persons; Clinical Clerkship
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Medicine and Health Sciences
Purpose: Medical students enter preclinical years with varying levels of experience with individuals with disabilities. Previous experience has been shown to have a significant impact on attitudes toward this population and, hence, has the potential to impact patient care (Tervo et. al, 2002). This study examined the impact of a one-day Interclerkship on students’ self-reports regarding specific components of their attitudes, by level and type of previous disability experience.
Methodology: Students met with individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities and their families in small groups to discuss their health care needs and experiences. Students also viewed a short film regarding effective methods of communication with and modifications to the clinical encounter for individuals with physical disabilities. Afternoon workshops covered a wide array of topics including assistive technology, sexuality/childbirth, mental health, community resources and bladder management. Students reported levels of experience cognitive/physical: friends, relatives, schoolmates k-12 and college. 153 (77%) students over two years completed pre-and post-Interclerkship self-assessments that rated attitudes about medical care for patients with disabilities, using a 14-item 5-point Likert scale; means were compared by paired t-test. Students also provided course feedback.
Results: There was a highly significant (p<0.001) pre-to-post improvement overall in mean scores for students’ self-assessed awareness of healthcare issues. Significant impact was seen for students at all levels of experience. A trend toward greater improvement among students reporting no previous disability experience was observed.
Conclusions: A single-day Interclerkship improved the attitudes of students’ reporting all levels and types of disability experience.