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Br J Gen Pract. 2002 May; 52(478): 359–363.
PMCID: PMC1314290

Attitude of medical students towards general practice and general practitioners.


BACKGROUND: The stimuli for this work came from the need to identify and understand the origin of students' attitudes towards general practice in the context of undergraduate curriculum reform and concerns about recruitment. AIM: To evaluate attitudes of medical students towards general practice as a specialty and general practitioners (GPs) as doctors and explore factors influencing students' attitudes and intended career choice. DESIGN OF STUDY: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: Final-year students at two London medical schools. METHOD: Questionnaires were distributed to 984 students and the results analysed using SPSS analysis. RESULTS: The mean response rate was 72% (700/984). Medical students had a positive attitude towards general practice as a specialty (mean Likert score = 3.90/5, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.86 to 3.94) and towards GPs as doctors (mean Likert score = 3.62/5, 95% CI = 3.59 to 3.66). They rated personal experience of GPs as the most important factor influencing their attitude. Students' attitudes towards general practice and GPs were more positive (P<0.001) in the fifth year. First-year students perceived the media to have a more important role in influencing their attitude than those in the fifth year(P<0.001). General practice was the only career option to significantly increase in popularity between the first and final year(P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Medical students end their undergraduate years with a more positive attitude towards general practice than has been reported elsewhere recently. This may be partially explained by the greater contact with GPs and suggests that efforts by medical schools to ensure a more balanced, community-based curriculum promotes positive attitudes to general practice. The influence of the media on the first years of medical school requiresfurther investigation.

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Selected References

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