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Med Educ. 2004 Mar;38(3):276-85.

Academic misconduct among medical students in a post-communist country.

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1
Zagreb University School of Medicine, Salata, Zagreb, Croatia.

Abstract

AIM:

To assess the prevalence of, attitudes towards and willingness to report different forms of academic dishonesty among medical students in a post-communist transitional country.

METHODS:

An anonymous, self-administered questionnaire was distributed to medical students in Years 2-6 at the Zagreb University School of Medicine; 827 (70%) valid questionnaires were returned and analysed.

RESULTS:

Most of the students (94%) admitted cheating at least once during their studies. The most frequent type of misconduct was 'signing in an absent student on a class attendance list' (89.1%), and the least frequent 'paying for passing an examination' (0.7%). The number of committed types of misconduct out of 11 listed types increased from Year 2 (median 2) to Year 6 (median 4). Cheating behaviours could be clustered into 4 groups based on self-reported cheating, perceived prevalence of cheating, attitude towards cheating, and willingness to report cheating. The clustered behaviours that most students admitted to were perceived as the most frequent, more approved of and less likely to be reported. The strongest predictors of dishonest behaviour were attitude, perception of peer group behaviour and study year. Almost half (44%) the students said they would never report any form of cheating.

CONCLUSION:

Academic misconduct is widespread among medical students at the largest medical school in Croatia and its prevalence is greater than that reported for developed countries. This may be related to social and cultural factors specific to a country in the midst of a post-communist transition to a market economy, and calls for measures to be instigated at an institutional level to educate against and prevent such behaviour.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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