Family medicine residents' knowledge of, attitudes toward, and clinical practices related to environmental health: Multi-program survey. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • OBJECTIVE: To assess family medicine residents' knowledge of, attitudes toward, and clinical practices related to environmental health (EH). DESIGN: Two-part study with questionnaire construction using a modified Delphi method, and a Web-based questionnaire administered to family medicine residents between November 2015 and January 2016. SETTING: All Canadian family medicine programs (for questionnaire construction) and 4 Ontario family medicine training programs (for questionnaire administration). PARTICIPANTS: First- to third-year family medicine residents (for questionnaire administration). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Responses to 93 survey items that measured family medicine residents' knowledge of, attitudes toward, and clinical practices related to EH. RESULTS: For the final administered questionnaire, 203 of 887 (22.9%) family medicine residents responded. Although 92.0% of respondents somewhat or strongly believed that taking an environmental exposure history was important, only 18.1% of them had specific training in taking environmental exposure history, and 48.4% believed that taking an exposure history takes up too much time in office practice. While 82.9% of residents correctly identified recreational water use as a cause of gastroenteritis, only 60.2% correctly identified radon as a cause of lung cancer and 37.6% knew that elevated ground-level ozone is associated with asthma. Only 10.8% believed their supervisors had a good understanding of environmental exposures. Residents who believed their supervisors understood environmental exposures were more likely to take exposure histories for patients with uncontrolled asthma (P < .05), and those who discussed EH exposure with supervisors frequently, or thought environmental exposure histories were very important, were more likely to provide patients with EH education materials (P < .01). CONCLUSION: Although family medicine residents are aware of the importance of assessing patients' environmental exposures, they lack training and mentorship in EH. As a health determinant of critical importance, EH should be a high priority for inclusion in postgraduate family medicine education.

publication date

  • June 2019