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Med Teach. 2010;32(4):e191-8. doi: 10.3109/01421591003657451.

Patient-centred attitudes among medical students: gender and work experience in health care make a difference.

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University of Gothenburg, SE 405 30, Gothenburg,Sweden.



Previous studies of medical students' patient-centred attitudes show a decline across undergraduate education and overall higher scores for female students.


To assess undergraduate students' patient-centred attitudes at various stages of education and to explore possible associations between attitudes and age, gender and work experience in health care.


In autumn 2005, medical students in Gothenburg (n = 797) were asked to answer Patient-Practitioner Orientation Scale (PPOS), a validated instrument exploring attitudes towards the doctor-patient relationship. Data including gender, age, current term and students' work experience in health care were collected.


Of 797 students 600 (75%) answered the questionnaire. No decrease of students' PPOS score across the curriculum was observed. PPOS scores from female students were higher compared to males (p < 0.0001) and female scores were significantly higher in the later terms compared with earlier (p = 0.0011). Female students had more experience from working in health care (p = 0.0023). Extended work experience was associated with higher PPOS only among females (p = 0.0031).


No decline of students' patient-centred attitudes may indicate an ongoing shift. Gender differences in patient-centred attitudes were reproduced. Work experience in health care presents a new gender difference. These gender differences should be considered when training patient-centred attitudes and skills.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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