alexa A longitudinal evaluation of medical student knowledge, skills and attitudes to alcohol and drugs.


Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior

Author(s): Cape G, Hannah A, Sellman D, Cape G, Hannah A, Sellman D, Cape G, Hannah A, Sellman D, Cape G, Hannah A, Sellman D

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Abstract AIM: To examine the knowledge, skills and attitudes of medical students to alcohol and drugs as training progresses. DESIGN: A longitudinal, prospective, cohort-based design. SETTING: The four schools of medicine in New Zealand. PARTICIPANTS: All second-year medical students (first year of pre-clinical medical health sciences) in New Zealand were administered a questionnaire which was repeated in the fourth (first year of significant clinical exposure) and then sixth years (final year). A response rate of 98\% in the second year, 75\% in the fourth year and 34\% in the sixth year, with a total of 637 respondents (47.8\% male) and an overall response rate of 68\%. QUESTIONNAIRE: The questionnaire consisted of 43 questions assessing knowledge and skills -- a mixture of true/false and scenario stem-based multiple-choice questions and 25 attitudinal questions scored on a Likert scale. Demographic questions included first language, ethnicity and personal consumption of alcohol and tobacco. FINDINGS: The competence (knowledge plus skills) correct scores increased from 23.4\% at the second year to 53.6\% at the fourth year to 71.8\% at the sixth year, being better in those students who drank alcohol and whose first language was English (P < 0.002). As training progressed the student's perceptions of their role adequacy regarding the effectiveness of the management of illicit drug users diminished. For example, at second year 21\% and at sixth year 51\% of students felt least effective in helping patients to reduce illicit drug use. At the sixth year, 15\% of sixth year students regarded the self-prescription of psychoactive drugs as responsible practice. CONCLUSION: Education on alcohol and drugs for students remains a crucial but under provided part of the undergraduate medical curriculum. This research demonstrated that while positive teaching outcomes were apparent, further changes to medical student curricula need to be considered to address specific knowledge deficits and to increase the therapeutic commitment and professional safety of medical students to alcohol and drugs. This article was published in Addiction and referenced in Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior

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