Monday, April 30, 2012

New Research from Biomed Central

1. Varghese J, Faith M, Jacob M. Impact of e-resources on learning in Biochemistry: first-year medical students' perceptions. BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:21 doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-21

Background: E-learning resources (e-resources) have been widely used to facilitate self-directed learning among medical students. The Department of Biochemistry at Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, India, has made available e-resources to first-year medical students to supplement conventional lecture-based teaching in the subject. This study was designed to assess students' perceptions of the impact of these e-resources on various aspects of their learning in biochemistry.

Methods: Sixty first-year medical students were the subjects of this study. At the end of the one-year course in biochemistry, the students were administered a questionnaire that asked them to assess the impact of the e-resources on various aspects of their learning in biochemistry. 

Results: Ninety-eight percent of students had used the e-resources provided to varying extents. Most of them found the e-resources provided useful and of a high quality. The majority of them used these resources to prepare for periodic formative and final summative assessments in the course. The use of these resources increased steadily as the academic year progressed. Students said that the extent to which they understood the subject (83%) and their ability to answer questions in assessments (86%) had improved as a result of using these resources. They also said that they found biochemistry interesting (73%) and felt motivated to study the subject (59%).

Conclusions: We found that first-year medical students extensively used the e-resources in biochemistry that were provided. They perceived that these resources had made a positive impact on various aspects of their learning in biochemistry. We conclude that e-resources are a useful supplement to conventional lecture-based teaching in the medical curriculum. 

2.       2. Morris H, Ryan C, Lanchlan D, Field M. Do medical student attitudes towards patients with chronic low back pain improve during training? A cross-sectional study. BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:10 doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-10

Background: Health care professionals with positive attitudes towards the functional abilities of patients with low back pain are more likely to encourage activity and avoidance of rest as per recommended guidelines. This study investigated whether medical student training fosters positive attitudes towards patients with back pain and their ability to function.

Methods: First (n = 202) and final (n = 146) year medical students at the University of Glasgow completed the Health Care Professionals' Pain and Impairment Relationship Scale (HC-PAIRS) questionnaire. This measures attitudes of clinicians towards the functional ability of patients with back pain. A group of first (n = 62) and final year (n = 61) business students acted as non-health care controls. Attitudes were compared using two-way ANOVA with year of study and discipline of degree as independent variables.

Results: Both year of study [F(1,465) = 39.5, p < 0.01] and discipline of degree [F(1,465) = 43.6, p < 0.01] had significant effects on total HC-PAIRS scores and there was a significant interaction effect [F(1,465) = 9.5, p < 0.01]. Medical students commenced their course with more positive attitudes than non-health care students (65.7 vs. 69.2 respectively; p < 0.01) - lower scores translating into more positive attitudes. In their final year, the difference between the two student groups had widened (56.4 vs. 65.3; p < 0.01).

Conclusions: Undergraduate medical training promotes positive attitudes towards the functional ability of patients with back pain, suggesting that students may be more likely to develop an evidence-based approach to this patient group after qualification. Some adjustments to training may be warranted to encourage a more positive shift in attitudes. 

3.      3. Emmerton L, Fejzec J, Tett SE. Consumers' experiences and values in conventional and alternative medicine paradigms: a problem detection study (PDS). BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:39 doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-39

Background: This study explored consumer perceptions of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and relationships with CAM and conventional medicine practitioners. A problem detection study (PDS) was used. The qualitative component to develop the questionnaire used a CAM consumer focus group to explore conventional and CAM paradigms in healthcare. 32 key issues, seven main themes, informed the questionnaire (the quantitative PDS component - 36 statements explored using five-point Likert scales.)

Results: Of 300 questionnaires distributed (Brisbane, Australia), 83 consumers responded. Results indicated that consumers felt empowered by using CAM and they reported positive relationships with CAM practitioners. The perception was that CAM were used most effectively as long-term therapy (63% agreement), but that conventional medicines would be the best choice for emergency treatment (81% agreement). A majority (65%) reported that doctors appeared uncomfortable about consumers' visits to CAM practitioners. Most consumers (72%) believed that relationships with and between health practitioners could be enhanced by improved communication. It was agreed that information sharing between consumers and healthcare practitioners is important, and reported that "enough" information is shared between CAM practitioners and consumers. Consumers felt comfortable discussing their medicines with pharmacists, general practitioners and CAM practitioners, but felt most comfortable with their CAM practitioners.

Conclusions: This PDS has emphasized the perceived importance of open communication between consumers, CAM and conventional providers, and has exposed areas where CAM consumers perceive that issues exist across the CAM and conventional medicine paradigms. There is a lot of information which is perceived as not being shared at present and there are issues of discomfort and distrust which require resolution to develop concordant relationships in healthcare. Further research should be based on optimisation of information sharing, spanning both conventional and CAM fields of healthcare, due to both the relevance of concordance principles within CAM modalities and the widespread use of CAM by consumers.

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