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ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 34-38

Pilot undergraduate course teaches students about chronic illness in children: An educational intervention study


1 Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
2 Department of Pediatrics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USA
3 Department of Pediatrics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Joshua D. Schiffman
Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah 2000 Circle of Hope, Room 4343, Salt Lake City, UT 84112
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.134305

Background: Recent data question whether medical education adequately prepares physicians to care for the growing number of children with chronic medical conditions. We describe a 10-week course designed to provide undergraduate students with the knowledge and skills required to understand and care for children with chronic or catastrophic illnesses. The course presented the illness experience from the child's perspective and thus presented information in a manner that was efficient, conducive, and memorable. The curriculum was designed like a graduate-level seminar that included workshops, lectures, readings, writing, and lively discussions. Methods: This is an educational intervention study that used survey data to assess changes in attitudes among and between participants completing this course versus students not exposed to this course. We used Somers' D test and Fisher's z-transformation to perform both pre- and post-nonparametric comparisons. Results: Course participants were more likely to change their attitudes and agree that chronically ill children "feel comfortable talking with their peers about their condition" (P=0.003) and less likely to agree that these children "want to be treated differently," "want more sympathy," or "care less about romantic relationships" (P = 0.003, 0.002 and 0.02, respectively). Controls were more likely to continue to agree that chronically ill children "want to be treated differently" (P = 0.009) and "care less about romantic relationships" (P = 0.02), and less likely to agree that these children "talk openly" or "feel comfortable talking with their peers about their condition" (P = 0.04). Conclusions: This classroom-based course serves as a feasible and cost-effective model for universities and medical schools to aid in improving student attitudes toward treating chronically ill children. The course provides the unique opportunity to learn directly from those who care for and those who have lived with chronic illness.


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