Sex and the surgery: students' attitudes and potential behaviour as they pass through a modern medical curriculum
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OBJECTIVE: To examine students' attitudes and potential behaviour to a possible intimate relationship with a patient as they pass through a modern medical curriculum. DESIGN: A cohort study of students entering Glasgow University's new learner centred, integrated medical curriculum in October 1996. METHODS: Students' pre year 1 and post year 1, post year 3, and post year 5 responses to the "attractive patient" vignette of the Ethics in Health Care Survey instrument were examined quantitatively and qualitatively. Analysis of students' multi-choice answers enabled measurement of the movement towards professional consensus opinion. Analysis of written justifications helped determine whether their reasoning was consistent with professional consensus and enabled measurement of change in knowledge content and recognition of the values inherent in the vignette. Themes on students' reasoning behind their decision to enter a relationship or not were also identified. RESULTS: No significant movement towards consensus was found at any point in the curriculum. There was little improvement in students' performance in terms of knowledge content and their abilities to recognise the values inherent in the vignette. In deciding to enter a relationship with the patient the most frequently used reasoning was that it could be justified if the patient changed their doctor. CONCLUSIONS: Teaching on the subject of sexual or improper relationships between doctors and patients, including relationships with former patients requires to be made explicit. Case based teaching would fit in with the ethos of the problem based, integrated medical curriculum.
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