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Teach Learn Med. 2012;24(2):117-21. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2012.664533.

Medical student attitudes toward patients in diverse care settings: the impact of a patient evaluation course.

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  • 1University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York, USA.



First-year medical students typically have limited exposure to patients in diverse care settings, such as rehabilitation facilities and nursing homes.


It is unknown whether students bring predetermined attitudes toward these patients, or whether attitudes are influenced by early exposure. We studied this in a new course that provides opportunities for students to interact with patients of various ages and disabilities.


We conducted surveys of 1st-year medical students at the University of Rochester in the year prior to the new course and during its initial year. We used factor analysis to derive underlying dimensions of students' responses. We also investigated the impact that the course had on their perceptions.


In both years, we found that students conceptualize patient care along 2 affective dimensions (comfort and pleasure) and 2 attitudinal dimensions (bias and pessimism), rather than by type of disability.


This 10-week course improved their affect toward these patient groups but had little effect on their general attitudes toward the value of caring for them.

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