To determine the effect of two educational interventions on the diabetes-related attitudes of medical students.
We studied 67 junior and senior medical students who were participating in the University of Michigan Medical School's Family Practice elective clerkship. Students were assigned to one of two interventions. The first was a 1-wk living-with-diabetes behavioral simulation that involved injections, blood glucose monitoring, diet, exercise, and record keeping. The second intervention involved reading an autobiography about living with diabetes and viewing a videotape about the psychosocial impact of diabetes.
No differential impact was found between the two interventions. However, both interventions were followed by a modest positive change in the attitudes of the medical students (which were very positive to begin with) toward the importance of patient autonomy and the value of the team approach to diabetes care. The attitude gains persisted at follow-up for patient autonomy but returned to baseline for team care.
This study suggests that these two educational interventions resulted in modest increases in the already positive attitudes of medical students toward the importance of patient autonomy and team care in diabetes. However, because the study did not include a group that received no treatment, we cannot be certain on this point. The attitude gain related to team care did not persist at follow-up. These findings are consistent with classical attitude research, which suggests that attitudes are sensitive to influences such as these interventions, but that attitude changes may not persist when those influences are changed or withdrawn. We were not able to find a differential impact between the two interventions and suspect that the general nature of the DAS used as the dependent measure may not have been sensitive enough to capture such a differential impact.