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Addiction. 2000 Jun;95(6):949-57.

Medical education in substance-related disorders: components and outcome.

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  • 1Addiction Centre, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



To analyze the process of acquisition by physicians of a body of knowledge and skills in the management of substance abuse.


A comprehensive search of English-speaking literature was conducted over 20 years. Articles assessing the outcome of educational strategies in undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education were examined to determine the targeted sample, the educational strategies involved and the outcomes assessed.


Nine studies in undergraduate education, 11 in graduate and 11 in continuing education met the inclusion criteria. They were generally difficult to compare in design, strategy and outcome analysis. Cognitive knowledge and behavioral skills appear to be easier to obtain compared to more complex attitudinal shifts.


There is growing consensus in the selection of a combined didactic and interactive educational strategy but few empirical data as to the more cost-effective learning interventions. Training must be reinforced at regular intervals. While the expanding panoply of interventions available to physicians should enhance the perceptions of role legitimacy and treatment optimism, cohort studies across levels of education, specialty groups and across-substance and other addictive behaviors are required to determine cost-effective educational strategies.

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