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Support Care Cancer. 2003 Nov;11(11):696-9. Epub 2003 Jul 25.

Caring for dying patients--what are the attitudes of medical students?

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  • 1Liverpool Medical School, Harrison Hughes Building, Brownlow Hill, L69 3, Liverpool, UK. mlw@liv.ac.uk


Students entering medical school today will encounter an ageing population and a higher incidence of patients with terminal and life threatening illness. This study was carried out to determine the attitudes of pre-clinical medical students towards the care of patients for whom a cure is not possible. All students were invited to complete a 23-item questionnaire prior to any teaching in palliative care. Of the 186 students who participated in the study, 151 (79%) completed the pre-teaching questionnaire (males=59; females 90; median age 20 years; range 19-27]. Attitudes towards chronically ill and dying patients were generally positive. When comparing age with attitudes it was found that increasing age was associated with a more positive view of caring for patients with chronic or terminal illness, a more positive view of listening to patients reminisce and a more positive view of patients dying at home. Caring for patients at the end of life can be one of the most rewarding aspects of being a doctor. This study suggests that the majority of medical students have a positive attitude towards patients with chronic and terminal illness-the trend for encouraging older students to enter medicine may be an influencing factor.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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