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BMC Med Educ. 2018 Dec 13;18(1):305. doi: 10.1186/s12909-018-1393-x.

A cross-sectional study into medical students' perceptions of healthcare regulation and self-reported compliance: a study conducted in the City of Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, 2016.

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Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM), Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Villa 42, Raha Gardens, PO Box 965118, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM), Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Medisch Centrum Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands.



Although healthcare regulation is commonplace, there is limited evidence of its impact. Making sure that healthcare professionals comply with the regulatory requirements is a prerequisite to achieving effective regulation. Therefore, investigating factors that influence compliance may provide better insights into how regulators can be more effective. This study aimed to find out if medical students' perceptions of regulation in the United Arab Emirates are associated with self-reported regulatory compliance.


In the cross-sectional study, we administered a structured questionnaire to students of medicine with different statements concerning their perceptions of healthcare regulation and self-reported compliance. The statements included statement regarding the legitimacy, fairness and regulatory performance, as well as the risk to getting caught and being punished. The association between perceptions and self-reported compliance was analyzed using multiple regression models.


One hundred and six Year 3 and 4 pre-clinical medicine students (56.4% response rate) completed the survey. Almost 40% of the students rated their level of awareness and understanding of regulation as Good or Very Good., despite their lack of direct contact with the regulatory authorities (less than 10% reported monthly or more frequent contact). Self-reported compliance was high with almost 85% of the students either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the four compliance statements (mean score 4.1 out of 5). The findings suggest that positive perceptions of the regulator's performance (β 0.27; 95% CI 0.13-0.41), fairness of the regulatory processes (β 0.25; 95% CI 0.11-0.38) and its legitimacy (β 0.23; 95% CI 0.05-0.41), are stronger associated with compliance than the perceived risks of getting caught and being punished (β 0.10; 95% CI -0.04 - 0.23).


To improve compliant behavior, healthcare regulators should pay more attention to their own perceived performance, as well as the perceived fairness and legitimacy of their regulatory processes rather than focusing on more traditional methods of deterrence, such as perceived risk of getting caught and being published.


Healthcare regulation; Medical education; Perceptions of regulation; United Arab Emirates

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