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Health Educ Res. 2013 Apr;28(2):265-75. doi: 10.1093/her/cys073. Epub 2012 Jun 21.

Do US medical students report more training on evidence-based prevention topics?

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  • 1School of Population and Public Health-Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z3.


Little is known about the extent to which evidence-based prevention topics are taught in medical school. All class of 2003 medical students (n = 2316) at 16 US schools were eligible to complete three questionnaires: at the beginning of first and third years and in their senior year, with 80.3% responding. We queried these students about 21 preventive medicine topics, concerning the extent of their training and their patient counseling frequency at some of these time points. At the beginning of the third year, self-reported extensive training was low for all preventive medicine topics (range 7-26%). USPSTF-recommended topics received more curricular time (median for topics: 36% if recommended versus 24.5% if not, P = 0.025), as did topics addressed through testing rather than through discussion (median for topics: 37% for testing and 25% for discussion, P = 0.005). Extensive training was always associated with higher counseling frequency, and intention to go into primary care, female gender, a positive attitude toward prevention and positive personal health habits were associated with higher counseling frequency. Although some bemoan the overall low levels of US medical students' prevention-related training and practice, we demonstrate that at least they are preferentially evidence-based, a novel and encouraging finding for preventionists.

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