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ORIGINAL RESEARCH PAPER
Year : 2011  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 591

The benefits to medical undergraduates of exposure to community-based survey research


Department of Community Medicine, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College, Pondicherry, India

Correspondence Address:
A R Dongre
Department of Community Medicine, Sri Manakula Vinayagar Medical College, Pondicherry
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


PMID: 22267354

Introduction: In India, there has been little effort to teach medical students about public health research. Few medical institutions in India and nearby Nepal formally offer exposure to field surveys or projects to medical undergraduates as a part of their training in community medicine. Little is known about the effect of such activity on students or how they apply what they learn. We implemented a systematic, hands-on experience in the public health research process with medical undergraduates in Puducherry, India to evaluate its effect on students. Material and Methods: Two groups, each with 30 third-semester (second year) medical undergraduates, participated in a 15-day, two and one-half hours per day course on the public health research process. At the end of course, a retrospective post-then-pre self-assessment of students' skills was obtained. One year later, we resurveyed students with open-ended questions to assess their impressions of what they had gained from learning about the field survey process. Results: Out of the 60 students, 55 (91.6%) provided complete responses for analysis. The mean post-exposure Likert scores of students' self-perceived skills and knowledge were significantly higher than their retrospective assessments of themselves prior to the course in areas such as being aware of the public health research process, their skills in interviewing and communicating with local villagers, and ability to collect, enter via computer and present gathered information (p<0.005). Six categories of common responses, all positive, emerged from the open-ended feedback: 1) ability to apply learning to research work, 2) communication skills, 3) awareness about local epidemiology of injury ,4) awareness of local first-aid practices and health care seeking behavior, 5) awareness of survey techniques, and 6) anticipated application of this learning in the future and its effect on the student. Conclusions: Overall, the initial implementation of a program exposing medical students to the community survey research process was well received. Early exposure of medical undergraduates to the survey research process appears to help them be better clinicians, who are able to understand and use field level data.


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