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1.  School Playground Surfacing and Arm Fractures in Children: A Cluster Randomized Trial Comparing Sand to Wood Chip Surfaces 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(12):e1000195.
In a randomized trial of elementary schools in Toronto, Andrew Howard and colleagues show that granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with wood fiber surfaces.
The risk of playground injuries, especially fractures, is prevalent in children, and can result in emergency room treatment and hospital admissions. Fall height and surface area are major determinants of playground fall injury risk. The primary objective was to determine if there was a difference in playground upper extremity fracture rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing versus granite sand surfacing. Secondary objectives were to determine if there were differences in overall playground injury rates or in head injury rates in school playgrounds with wood fibre surfacing compared to school playgrounds with granite sand surfacing.
Methods and Findings
The cluster randomized trial comprised 37 elementary schools in the Toronto District School Board in Toronto, Canada with a total of 15,074 students. Each school received qualified funding for installation of new playground equipment and surfacing. The risk of arm fracture from playground falls onto granitic sand versus onto engineered wood fibre surfaces was compared, with an outcome measure of estimated arm fracture rate per 100,000 student-months. Schools were randomly assigned by computer generated list to receive either a granitic sand or an engineered wood fibre playground surface (Fibar), and were not blinded. Schools were visited to ascertain details of the playground and surface actually installed and to observe the exposure to play and to periodically monitor the depth of the surfacing material. Injury data, including details of circumstance and diagnosis, were collected at each school by a prospective surveillance system with confirmation of injury details through a validated telephone interview with parents and also through collection (with consent) of medical reports regarding treated injuries. All schools were recruited together at the beginning of the trial, which is now closed after 2.5 years of injury data collection. Compliant schools included 12 schools randomized to Fibar that installed Fibar and seven schools randomized to sand that installed sand. Noncompliant schools were added to the analysis to complete a cohort type analysis by treatment received (two schools that were randomized to Fibar but installed sand and seven schools that were randomized to sand but installed Fibar). Among compliant schools, an arm fracture rate of 1.9 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.04–6.9) per 100,000 student-months was observed for falls into sand, compared with an arm fracture rate of 9.4 (95% CI 3.7–21.4) for falls onto Fibar surfaces (p≤0.04905). Among all schools, the arm fracture rate was 4.5 (95% CI 0.26–15.9) per 100,000 student-months for falls into sand compared with 12.9 (95% CI 5.1–30.1) for falls onto Fibar surfaces. No serious head injuries and no fatalities were observed in either group.
Granitic sand playground surfaces reduce the risk of arm fractures from playground falls when compared with engineered wood fibre surfaces. Upgrading playground surfacing standards to reflect this information will prevent arm fractures.
Trial Registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN02647424
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Playgrounds and outdoor play equipment provide children with a place to let steam off, play creatively, socialize, and learn new skills. And, in a world where childhood obesity is a burgeoning problem, playgrounds provide a place where children can be encouraged to exercise. But playgrounds are not without hazards. Even in well-maintained and well-run facilities, children can hurt themselves by falling off climbing frames, monkey bars, and other equipment or by falling from standing height during playground games such as tag. In the US alone, more than 200,000 children are treated in emergency departments for injuries sustained in playgrounds every year and about 6,400 children are admitted to hospitals because of playground injuries, most of which are bone fractures (broken bones). In fact, playground injuries in the US are more severe and have a higher hospital admission rate than any other sort of child injury except those involving vehicles.
Why Was This Study Done?
Children who fall off playground equipment are nearly four times as likely to break a bone (often in an arm) as children who fall from standing height. To reduce the number of fractures that occur in playgrounds, some governments have limited the height of playground equipment. Some have also set standards for the type of surfaces installed in playgrounds and for the depth of sand or engineered wood fiber in loose fill surfaces. These standards are based on laboratory tests in which headforms (artificial heads) are dropped onto surfaces. However, these tests provide no information about the ability of different surfaces to prevent broken arms and other specific injuries in the real world. In this cluster randomized trial (a study in which groups of people are randomly assigned to receive different interventions), the researchers compare the rates of arm fractures in elementary (primary) school playgrounds in Toronto (Canada) that have wood fiber surfacing with the rates in playgrounds that have granite sand surfacing.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers randomly assigned 37 elementary schools that had qualified for school board funding for replacement playground equipment to receive either wood fiber (19 schools) or granite sand surfacing (18 schools) in their playgrounds. 19 of the schools complied with their randomization (12 installed fiber and seven installed sand); two schools installed sand although they were randomized to install fiber and seven schools installed fiber instead of sand. The researchers evaluated the playgrounds and their surfaces several times during the 2.5-year study and collected data on how playground injuries happened and types of injuries from the schools, parents, and medical reports. Among the schools that complied with randomization, falls from height into sand resulted in 1.9 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months whereas falls into fiber resulted in 9.4 arm fractures per 100,000 student-months. Arm fracture rates and other injury rates were also higher for falls from height into fiber than into sand when all the schools that had installed new surfaces were considered. However, the rates of arm fracture and other injuries that did not involve a fall from height did not vary between surfaces.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The accuracy of these findings is limited by the small number of arm fractures that occurred during the trial—only 20 children who fell into fiber and two who fell into sand broke an arm. The accuracy of the findings may also be limited by the failure of many schools to comply with randomization although the researchers found no obvious differences between the schools that did and did not comply with randomization that might have affected the trial's outcome. However, even with these limitations, the findings of this real-world study indicate that granitic sand surfaces substantially reduce the risk of arm fractures and other injuries caused by falls from playground equipment when compared with wood fiber surfaces. Thus, because falls from playground equipment are more likely to cause a fracture than falls from standing height, if playground surfacing standards are adjusted to reflect the findings of this study (that is, if sand surfaces are recommended in preference to wood fiber surfaces), many arm fractures in children should be prevented.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at ttp://
Safe Kids Canada provides information about playground safety and other aspects of childhood safety (in English and French)
Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit organization for child health, provides information for parents on playground safety
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents provides information on the safety of indoor and outdoor play areas
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides fact sheets on playground injuries
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission also has information on playground safety, including resources designed for children such as The Further Adventures of Kidd Safety and Little Big Kids, a booklet on play safety written by children for children
PMCID: PMC2784292  PMID: 20016688
2.  A holistic review of the medical school admission process: examining correlates of academic underperformance 
Medical Education Online  2014;19:10.3402/meo.v19.22919.
Despite medical school admission committees’ best efforts, a handful of seemingly capable students invariably struggle during their first year of study. Yet, even as entrance criteria continue to broaden beyond cognitive qualifications, attention inevitably reverts back to such factors when seeking to understand these phenomena. Using a host of applicant, admission, and post-admission variables, the purpose of this inductive study, then, was to identify a constellation of student characteristics that, taken collectively, would be predictive of students at-risk of underperforming during the first year of medical school. In it, we hypothesize that a wider range of factors than previously recognized could conceivably play roles in understanding why students experience academic problems early in the medical educational continuum.
The study sample consisted of the five most recent matriculant cohorts from a large, southeastern medical school (n=537). Independent variables reflected: 1) the personal demographics of applicants (e.g., age, gender); 2) academic criteria (e.g., undergraduate grade point averages [GPA], medical college admission test); 3) selection processes (e.g., entrance track, interview scores, committee votes); and 4) other indicators of personality and professionalism (e.g., Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test™ emotional intelligence scores, NEO PI-R™ personality profiles, and appearances before the Professional Code Committee [PCC]). The dependent variable, first-year underperformance, was defined as ANY action (repeat, conditionally advance, or dismiss) by the college's Student Progress and Promotions Committee (SPPC) in response to predefined academic criteria. This study protocol was approved by the local medical institutional review board (IRB).
Of the 537 students comprising the study sample, 61 (11.4%) met the specified criterion for academic underperformance. Significantly increased academic risks were identified among students who 1) had lower mean undergraduate science GPAs (OR=0.24, p=0.001); 2) entered medical school via an accelerated BS/MD track (OR=16.15, p=0.002); 3) were 31 years of age or older (OR=14.76, p=0.005); and 4) were non-unanimous admission committee admits (OR=0.53, p=0.042). Two dimensions of the NEO PI-R™ personality inventory, openness (+) and conscientiousness (−), were modestly but significantly correlated with academic underperformance. Only for the latter, however, were mean scores found to differ significantly between academic performers and underperformers. Finally, appearing before the college's PCC (OR=4.21, p=0.056) fell just short of statistical significance.
Our review of various correlates across the matriculation process highlights the heterogeneity of factors underlying students’ underperformance during the first year of medical school and challenges medical educators to understand the complexity of predicting who, among admitted matriculants, may be at future academic risk.
PMCID: PMC3974177  PMID: 24695362
admissions; underperformance; selection; at-risk students
3.  Difficulties with anonymous shortlisting of medical school applications and its effects on candidates with non-European names: prospective cohort study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2000;320(7227):82-85.
To assess the feasibility of anonymous shortlisting of applications for medical school and its effect on those with non-European names.
Prospective cohort study.
Leeds school of medicine, United Kingdom.
2047 applications for 1998 entry from the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Deletion of all references to name and nationality from the application form.
Main outcome measures
Scoring by two admissions tutors at shortlisting.
Deleting names was cumbersome as some were repeated up to 15 times. Anonymising application forms was ineffective as one admissions tutor was able to identify nearly 50% of candidates classed as being from an ethnic minority group. Although scores were lower for applicants with non-European names, anonymity did not improve scores. Applicants with non-European names who were identified as such by tutors were significantly less likely to drop marks in one particular non-academic area (the career insight component) than their European counterparts.
There was no evidence of benefit to candidates with non-European names of attempting to blind assessment. Anonymising application forms cannot be recommended.
Key messagesIt is cumbersome to anonymise the current Universities and Colleges Admissions Service form as a candidate's name may appear up to 15 timesAnonymised application forms may still be identified as being from candidates from ethnic minority groupsMore thorough anonymising of application forms, such as deletion of cultural activities, would edit out some personal attributes and may disadvantage these candidatesAnonymous assessment of applications cannot be recommended
PMCID: PMC27252  PMID: 10625258
4.  Widening access to UK medical education for under-represented socioeconomic groups: modelling the impact of the UKCAT in the 2009 cohort 
Objective To determine whether the use of the UK clinical aptitude test (UKCAT) in the medical schools admissions process reduces the relative disadvantage encountered by certain sociodemographic groups.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Applicants to 22 UK medical schools in 2009 that were members of the consortium of institutions utilising the UKCAT as a component of their admissions process.
Participants 8459 applicants (24 844 applications) to UKCAT consortium member medical schools where data were available on advanced qualifications and socioeconomic background.
Main outcome measures The probability of an application resulting in an offer of a place on a medicine course according to seven educational and sociodemographic variables depending on how the UKCAT was used by the medical school (in borderline cases, as a factor in admissions, or as a threshold).
Results On univariate analysis all educational and sociodemographic variables were significantly associated with the relative odds of an application being successful. The multilevel multiple logistic regression models, however, varied between medical schools according to the way that the UKCAT was used. For example, a candidate from a non-professional background was much less likely to receive a conditional offer of a place compared with an applicant from a higher social class when applying to an institution using the test only in borderline cases (odds ratio 0.51, 95% confidence interval 0.45 to 0.60). No such effect was observed for such candidates applying to medical schools using the threshold approach (1.27, 0.84 to 1.91). These differences were generally reflected in the interactions observed when the analysis was repeated, pooling the data. Notably, candidates from several under-represented groups applying to medical schools that used a threshold approach to the UKCAT were less disadvantaged than those applying to the other institutions in the consortium. These effects were partially reflected in significant differences in the absolute proportion of such candidates finally taking up places in the different types of medical schools; stronger use of the test score (as a factor or threshold) was associated with a significantly increased odds of entrants being male (1.74, 1.25 to 2.41) and from a low socioeconomic background (3.57, 1.03 to 12.39). There was a non-significant trend towards entrants being from a state (non-grammar) school (1.60, 0.97 to 2.62) where a stronger use of the test was employed. Use of the test only in borderline cases was associated with increased odds of entrants having relatively low academic attainment (5.19, 2.02 to 13.33) and English as a second language (2.15, 1.03 to 4.48).
Conclusions The use of the UKCAT may lead to more equitable provision of offers to those applying to medical school from under-represented sociodemographic groups. This may translate into higher numbers of some, but not all, relatively disadvantaged students entering the UK medical profession.
PMCID: PMC3328544  PMID: 22511300
5.  Predictive Value of the School-leaving Grade and Prognosis of Different Admission Groups for Academic Performance and Continuity in the Medical Course – a Longitudinal Study 
Background: The school-leaving GPA and the time since completion of secondary education are the major criteria for admission to German medical schools. However, the predictive value of the school-leaving grade and the admission delay have not been thoroughly examined since the amendment of the Medical Licensing Regulations and the introduction of reformed curricula in 2002. Detailed information on the prognosis of the different admission groups is also missing.
Aim: To examine the predictive values of the school-leaving grade and the age at enrolment for academic performance and continuity throughout the reformed medical course.
Methods: The study includes the central admission groups “GPA-best” and “delayed admission” as well as the primary and secondary local admission groups of three consecutive cohorts. The relationship between the criteria academic performance and continuity and the predictors school-leaving GPA, enrolment age, and admission group affiliation were examined up to the beginning of the final clerkship year.
Results: The academic performance and the prolongation of the pre-clinical part of undergraduate training were significantly related to the school-leaving GPA. Conversely, the dropout rate was related to age at enrolment. The students of the GPA-best group and the primary local admission group performed best and had the lowest dropout rates. The students of the delayed admission group and secondary local admission group performed significantly worse. More than 20% of these students dropped out within the pre-clinical course, half of them due to poor academic performance. However, the academic performance of all of the admission groups was highly variable and only about 35% of the students of each group reached the final clerkship year within the regular time.
Discussion: The school-leaving grade and age appear to have different prognostic implications for academic performance and continuity. Both factors have consequences for the delayed admission group. The academic prognosis of the secondary local admission group is as problematic as that of the delayed admission group. Additional admission instruments would be necessary, in order to recognise potentially able applicants independently of their school-leaving grade and to avoid the secondary admission procedure.
PMCID: PMC4027806  PMID: 24872856
Medical studies; admission; GPA; school leaving grades
6.  Association of Medical Students' Reports of Interactions with the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries and Medical School Policies and Characteristics: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(10):e1001743.
Aaron Kesselheim and colleagues compared US medical students' survey responses regarding pharmaceutical company interactions with the schools' AMSA PharmFree scorecard and Institute on Medicine as a Profession's (IMAP) scores.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Professional societies use metrics to evaluate medical schools' policies regarding interactions of students and faculty with the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. We compared these metrics and determined which US medical schools' industry interaction policies were associated with student behaviors.
Methods and Findings
Using survey responses from a national sample of 1,610 US medical students, we compared their reported industry interactions with their schools' American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard and average Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) Conflicts of Interest Policy Database score. We used hierarchical logistic regression models to determine the association between policies and students' gift acceptance, interactions with marketing representatives, and perceived adequacy of faculty–industry separation. We adjusted for year in training, medical school size, and level of US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. We used LASSO regression models to identify specific policies associated with the outcomes. We found that IMAP and AMSA scores had similar median values (1.75 [interquartile range 1.50–2.00] versus 1.77 [1.50–2.18], adjusted to compare scores on the same scale). Scores on AMSA and IMAP shared policy dimensions were not closely correlated (gift policies, r = 0.28, 95% CI 0.11–0.44; marketing representative access policies, r = 0.51, 95% CI 0.36–0.63). Students from schools with the most stringent industry interaction policies were less likely to report receiving gifts (AMSA score, odds ratio [OR]: 0.37, 95% CI 0.19–0.72; IMAP score, OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.19–1.04) and less likely to interact with marketing representatives (AMSA score, OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.15–0.69; IMAP score, OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.14–0.95) than students from schools with the lowest ranked policy scores. The association became nonsignificant when fully adjusted for NIH funding level, whereas adjusting for year of education, size of school, and publicly versus privately funded school did not alter the association. Policies limiting gifts, meals, and speaking bureaus were associated with students reporting having not received gifts and having not interacted with marketing representatives. Policy dimensions reflecting the regulation of industry involvement in educational activities (e.g., continuing medical education, travel compensation, and scholarships) were associated with perceived separation between faculty and industry. The study is limited by potential for recall bias and the cross-sectional nature of the survey, as school curricula and industry interaction policies may have changed since the time of the survey administration and study analysis.
As medical schools review policies regulating medical students' industry interactions, limitations on receipt of gifts and meals and participation of faculty in speaking bureaus should be emphasized, and policy makers should pay greater attention to less research-intensive institutions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Making and selling prescription drugs and medical devices is big business. To promote their products, pharmaceutical and medical device companies build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, by organizing educational meetings and sponsored events, and by giving gifts. Financial relationships begin early in physicians' careers, with companies providing textbooks and other gifts to first-year medical students. In medical school settings, manufacturers may help to inform trainees and physicians about developments in health care, but they also create the potential for harm to patients and health care systems. These interactions may, for example, reduce trainees' and trained physicians' skepticism about potentially misleading promotional claims and may encourage physicians to prescribe new medications, which are often more expensive than similar unbranded (generic) drugs and more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than older drugs. To address these and other concerns about the potential career-long effects of interactions between medical trainees and industry, many teaching hospitals and medical schools have introduced policies to limit such interactions. The development of these policies has been supported by expert professional groups and medical societies, some of which have created scales to evaluate the strength of the implemented industry interaction policies.
Why Was This Study Done?
The impact of policies designed to limit interactions between students and industry on student behavior is unclear, and it is not known which aspects of the policies are most predictive of student behavior. This information is needed to ensure that the policies are working and to identify ways to improve them. Here, the researchers investigate which medical school characteristics and which aspects of industry interaction policies are most predictive of students' reported behaviors and beliefs by comparing information collected in a national survey of US medical students with the strength of their schools' industry interaction policies measured on two scales—the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard and the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) Conflicts of Interest Policy Database.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers compared information about reported gift acceptance, interactions with marketing representatives, and the perceived adequacy of faculty–industry separation collected from 1,610 medical students at 121 US medical schools with AMSA and IMAP scores for the schools evaluated a year earlier. Students at schools with the highest ranked interaction policies based on the AMSA score were 63% less likely to accept gifts as students at the lowest ranked schools. Students at the highest ranked schools based on the IMAP score were about half as likely to accept gifts as students at the lowest ranked schools, although this finding was not statistically significant (it could be a chance finding). Similarly, students at the highest ranked schools were 70% less likely to interact with sales representatives as students at the lowest ranked schools. These associations became statistically nonsignificant after controlling for the amount of research funding each school received from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Policies limiting gifts, meals, and being a part of speaking bureaus (where companies pay speakers to present information about the drugs for dinners and other events) were associated with students' reports of receiving no gifts and of non-interaction with sales representatives. Finally, policies regulating industry involvement in educational activities were associated with the perceived separation between faculty and industry, which was regarded as adequate by most of the students at schools with such policies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that policies designed to limit industry interactions with medical students need to address multiple aspects of these interactions to achieve changes in the behavior and attitudes of trainees, but that policies limiting gifts, meals, and speaking bureaus may be particularly important. These findings also suggest that the level of NIH funding plays an important role in students' self-reported behaviors and their perceptions of industry, possibly because institutions with greater NIH funding have the resources needed to implement effective policies. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by recall bias (students may have reported their experiences inaccurately), and by the possibility that industry interaction policies may have changed in the year that elapsed between policy grading and the student survey. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that limitations on gifts should be emphasized when academic medical centers refine their policies on interactions between medical students and industry and that particular attention should be paid to the design and implementation of policies that regulate industry interactions in institutions with lower levels of NIH funding.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice document, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Information about the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Just Medicine campaign (formerly the PharmFree campaign) and about the AMSA Scorecard is available
Information about the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and about its Conflicts of Interest Policy Database is also available
“Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide” is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that medical schools can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion
The US Institute of Medicine's report “Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice” recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The ALOSA Foundation provides evidence-based, non-industry-funded education about treating common conditions and using prescription drugs
PMCID: PMC4196737  PMID: 25314155
7.  Audit of admission to medical school: II--Shortlisting and interviews. 
Analysis of shortlisting of applicants for interview at St Mary's Hospital Medical School showed that factor analysis could reduce the selection criteria to three independent scales--"academic ability," "interests," and "community service"--all of which contributed to the interview decision. Early applicants scored more highly on all three factors but were still at a greater advantage in selection for interview than would have been predicted. The dean's judgment of priority for interview from the UCCA form was found to predict a candidate's chance of acceptance at other medical schools besides St Mary's. Analysis of interviewing showed high correlations among interviewers in their assessments, although there was evidence of influence by the chairmen. Factor analysis showed three major factors--academic suitability, non-academic suitability, and health--of which non academic suitability was the major determinant of interview success. Non academic suitability was related to personality (high extraversion and low psychoticism) and to the choices made on the UCCA form. The system of admission interviews enabled greater emphasis to be put on broader interests and achievements than if selection had been on the basis of UCCA application form alone.
PMCID: PMC1443471  PMID: 6437522
8.  Medical School Attrition-Beyond the Statistics A Ten Year Retrospective Study 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:13.
Medical school attrition is important - securing a place in medical school is difficult and a high attrition rate can affect the academic reputation of a medical school and staff morale. More important, however, are the personal consequences of dropout for the student. The aims of our study were to examine factors associated with attrition over a ten-year period (2001–2011) and to study the personal effects of dropout on individual students.
The study included quantitative analysis of completed cohorts and qualitative analysis of ten-year data. Data were collected from individual student files, examination and admission records, exit interviews and staff interviews. Statistical analysis was carried out on five successive completed cohorts. Qualitative data from student files was transcribed and independently analysed by three authors. Data was coded and categorized and key themes were identified.
Overall attrition rate was 5.7% (45/779) in 6 completed cohorts when students who transferred to other medical courses were excluded. Students from Kuwait and United Arab Emirates had the highest dropout rate (RR = 5.70, 95% Confidence Intervals 2.65 to 12.27;p < 0.0001) compared to Irish and EU students combined. North American students had a higher dropout rate than Irish and EU students; RR = 2.68 (1.09 to 6.58;p = 0.027) but this was not significant when transfers were excluded (RR = 1.32(0.38, 4.62);p = 0.75). Male students were more likely to dropout than females (RR 1.70, .93 to 3.11) but this was not significant (p = 0.079).
Absenteeism was documented in 30% of students, academic difficulty in 55.7%, social isolation in 20%, and psychological morbidity in 40% (higher than other studies). Qualitative analysis revealed recurrent themes of isolation, failure, and despair. Student Welfare services were only accessed by one-third of dropout students.
While dropout is often multifactorial, certain red flag signals may alert us to risk of dropout including non-EU origin, academic struggling, absenteeism, social isolation, depression and leave of absence. Psychological morbidity amongst dropout students is high and Student Welfare services should be actively promoted. Absenteeism should prompt early intervention. Behind every dropout statistic lies a personal story. All medical schools have a duty of care to support students who leave the medical programme.
PMCID: PMC3565981  PMID: 23363547
Medical school attrition; Dropout; Exit interviews; Student welfare services; Academic difficulty; Absenteeism
9.  Prospective study of the disadvantage of people from ethnic minority groups applying to medical schools in the United Kingdom. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1989;298(6675):723-726.
To assess whether the ethnic origin of applicants affects their likelihood of being accepted into medical school in the United Kingdom the outcome for the 2399 applicants who applied to read medicine at university in 1986 and included St Mary's Hospital Medical School as one of their five choices was studied prospectively. Altogether 2040 of the 2399 applicants were British (United Kingdom) nationals, constituting 24.7% (n = 8249) of all home applicants for medicine in 1986, and 1971 of them with postal addresses in the United Kingdom were sent questionnaires asking about their ethnic origin, whether English was their first language, and about their attitudes to ethnic monitoring. A total of 1817 (92.2%) applicants returned the questionnaire, 401 (22.6%) saying that they were from an ethnic minority group and 393 (21.6%) having non-European surnames. Multiple logistic regression identified 11 significant predictors of successful application, of which grades at O and A level, application after A levels, and date of application were the most important. After taking these four variables into account the predicted acceptance rates for home students on the basis of their application forms alone were 47.8% for white applicants and 35.6% for applicants from ethnic minority groups compared with actual acceptance rates of 49.6% and 27.3%, respectively. The difference in success of white and non-white applicants could partly but not entirely be explained by differences in the characteristics considered to be important in a professional context by selectors during shortlisting of candidates: academic ability, interests, and contribution to the community. No differences in the success rate of applicants from ethnic minority groups to individual medical schools could be identified. More research is needed to discover how perceptions of professional suitability are assessed from application forms and interviews.
PMCID: PMC1835995  PMID: 2496822
10.  Medical Students' Exposure to and Attitudes about the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001037.
A systematic review of published studies reveals that undergraduate medical students may experience substantial exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, and that this contact may be associated with positive attitudes about marketing.
The relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has become a source of controversy. Physicians' attitudes towards the industry can form early in their careers, but little is known about this key stage of development.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review reported according to PRISMA guidelines to determine the frequency and nature of medical students' exposure to the drug industry, as well as students' attitudes concerning pharmaceutical policy issues. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and ERIC from the earliest available dates through May 2010, as well as bibliographies of selected studies. We sought original studies that reported quantitative or qualitative data about medical students' exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, their attitudes about marketing practices, relationships with industry, and related pharmaceutical policy issues. Studies were separated, where possible, into those that addressed preclinical versus clinical training, and were quality rated using a standard methodology. Thirty-two studies met inclusion criteria. We found that 40%–100% of medical students reported interacting with the pharmaceutical industry. A substantial proportion of students (13%–69%) were reported as believing that gifts from industry influence prescribing. Eight studies reported a correlation between frequency of contact and favorable attitudes toward industry interactions. Students were more approving of gifts to physicians or medical students than to government officials. Certain attitudes appeared to change during medical school, though a time trend was not performed; for example, clinical students (53%–71%) were more likely than preclinical students (29%–62%) to report that promotional information helps educate about new drugs.
Undergraduate medical education provides substantial contact with pharmaceutical marketing, and the extent of such contact is associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism about negative implications of these interactions. These results support future research into the association between exposure and attitudes, as well as any modifiable factors that contribute to attitudinal changes during medical education.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The complex relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has long been a subject of discussion among physicians and policymakers. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that physicians' interactions with pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence clinical decision making in a way that is not always in the best interests of individual patients, for example, encouraging the use of expensive treatments that have no therapeutic advantage over less costly alternatives. The pharmaceutical industry often uses physician education as a marketing tool, as in the case of Continuing Medical Education courses that are designed to drive prescribing practices.
One reason that physicians may be particularly susceptible to pharmaceutical industry marketing messages is that doctors' attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry may form early in their careers. The socialization effect of professional schooling is strong, and plays a lasting role in shaping views and behaviors.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recently, particularly in the US, some medical schools have limited students' and faculties' contact with industry, but some have argued that these restrictions are detrimental to students' education. Given the controversy over the pharmaceutical industry's role in undergraduate medical training, consolidating current knowledge in this area may be useful for setting priorities for changes to educational practices. In this study, the researchers systematically examined studies of pharmaceutical industry interactions with medical students and whether such interactions influenced students' views on related topics.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a comprehensive literature search using appropriate search terms for all relevant quantitative and qualitative studies published before June 2010. Using strict inclusion criteria, the researchers then selected 48 articles (from 1,603 abstracts) for full review and identified 32 eligible for analysis—giving a total of approximately 9,850 medical students studying at 76 medical schools or hospitals.
Most students had some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry but contact increased in the clinical years, with up to 90% of all clinical students receiving some form of educational material. The highest level of exposure occurred in the US. In most studies, the majority of students in their clinical training years found it ethically permissible for medical students to accept gifts from drug manufacturers, while a smaller percentage of preclinical students reported such attitudes. Students justified their entitlement to gifts by citing financial hardship or by asserting that most other students accepted gifts. In addition, although most students believed that education from industry sources is biased, students variably reported that information obtained from industry sources was useful and a valuable part of their education.
Almost two-thirds of students reported that they were immune to bias induced by promotion, gifts, or interactions with sales representatives but also reported that fellow medical students or doctors are influenced by such encounters. Eight studies reported a relationship between exposure to the pharmaceutical industry and positive attitudes about industry interactions and marketing strategies (although not all included supportive statistical data). Finally, student opinions were split on whether physician–industry interactions should be regulated by medical schools or the government.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This analysis shows that students are frequently exposed to pharmaceutical marketing, even in the preclinical years, and that the extent of students' contact with industry is generally associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism towards any negative implications of interactions with industry. Therefore, strategies to educate students about interactions with the pharmaceutical industry should directly address widely held misconceptions about the effects of marketing and other biases that can emerge from industry interactions. But education alone may be insufficient. Institutional policies, such as rules regulating industry interactions, can play an important role in shaping students' attitudes, and interventions that decrease students' contact with industry and eliminate gifts may have a positive effect on building the skills that evidence-based medical practice requires. These changes can help cultivate strong professional values and instill in students a respect for scientific principles and critical evidence review that will later inform clinical decision-making and prescribing practices.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Further information about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on doctors and medical students can be found at the American Medical Students Association PharmFree campaign and PharmFree Scorecard, Medsin-UKs PharmAware campaign, the nonprofit organization Healthy Skepticism, and the Web site of No Free Lunch.
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
11.  Same admissions tools, different outcomes: a critical perspective on predictive validity in three undergraduate medical schools 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:173.
Admission to medical school is one of the most highly competitive entry points in higher education. Considerable investment is made by universities to develop selection processes that aim to identify the most appropriate candidates for their medical programs. This paper explores data from three undergraduate medical schools to offer a critical perspective of predictive validity in medical admissions.
This study examined 650 undergraduate medical students from three Australian universities as they progressed through the initial years of medical school (accounting for approximately 25 per cent of all commencing undergraduate medical students in Australia in 2006 and 2007). Admissions criteria (aptitude test score based on UMAT, school result and interview score) were correlated with GPA over four years of study. Standard regression of each of the three admissions variables on GPA, for each institution at each year level was also conducted.
Overall, the data found positive correlations between performance in medical school, school achievement and UMAT, but not interview. However, there were substantial differences between schools, across year levels, and within sections of UMAT exposed. Despite this, each admission variable was shown to add towards explaining course performance, net of other variables.
The findings suggest the strength of multiple admissions tools in predicting outcomes of medical students. However, they also highlight the large differences in outcomes achieved by different schools, thus emphasising the pitfalls of generalising results from predictive validity studies without recognising the diverse ways in which they are designed and the variation in the institutional contexts in which they are administered. The assumption that high-positive correlations are desirable (or even expected) in these studies is also problematised.
PMCID: PMC3880586  PMID: 24373207
Selection; Predictive validity; Admissions policy
12.  Graduate entry to medicine in Iran 
In Iran medical students are selected from high school graduates via a very competitive national university entrance exam. New proposals have been seriously considered for admitting students from those with bachelor degrees. We assessed the opinions of different stakeholders on the current situation of admission into medicine in Iran, and their views on positive and negative aspects of admitting graduates into medicine.
We conducted five focus group discussions and seven in-depth interviews with stakeholders including medical students, science students, university professors of basic sciences, medical education experts, and policy makers. Main themes were identified from the data and analyzed using content analysis approach.
Medical students believed "graduate admission" may lead to a more informed choice of medicine. They thought it could result in admission of students with lower levels of academic aptitude. The science students were in favor of "graduate admission". The education experts and the professors of basic science all mentioned the shortcomings of the current system of admission and considered "graduate admission" as an appropriate opportunity for correcting some of the shortcomings. The policy makers pointed out the potential positive influences of "graduate admission" on strengthening basic science research. They thought, however, that "graduate admission" may result in lengthening the overall duration of medical education, which is already long in Iran (over 7 years). On the whole, the participants thought that "graduate admission" is a step in the right direction for improving quality of medical education.
"Graduate admission" has the potential to correct some of shortcomings of medical education. Unlike other countries where "graduate admission" is used mainly to admit students who are mentally mature, in Iran the main objective seems to be strengthening basic sciences.
PMCID: PMC2571089  PMID: 18847497
13.  A survey of resuscitation training in Canadian undergraduate medical programs. 
OBJECTIVES: To establish a national profile of undergraduate training in resuscitation at Canadian medical schools, to compare the resuscitation training programs of the schools and to determine the cost of teaching seven resuscitation courses. DESIGN: Mail survey in 1989 and follow-up telephone interviews in 1991 to update and verify the information. SUBJECTS: The undergraduate deans of the 16 Canadian medical schools. INTERVENTION: The mail survey asked five questions: (a) Is completion of a standard first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course a requirement for admission to medical school? (b) Are these courses and those in basic and advanced cardiac, trauma and neurologic life support for children and adults provided to undergraduate students? (c) During which undergraduate year are these courses offered? (d) Is their successful completion required for graduation? and (e) Who funds the training courses? RESULTS: The medical schools placed emphasis on the seven courses differently. More than half the schools required the completion of courses before admission or taught some courses but did not require the completion of the courses for graduation. On average, fewer than three of the seven courses were taught, and the completion of fewer than two was required for graduation. About half of the courses were funded by the universities. The annual projected maximum cost of teaching the seven courses was $1790 per medical student. CONCLUSION: The seven resuscitation courses have not been fully implemented at the undergraduate level in Canadian medical schools.
PMCID: PMC1335559  PMID: 2049693
14.  The current provision of community-based teaching in UK medical schools: an online survey and systematic review 
BMJ Open  2014;4(12):e005696.
To evaluate the current provision and outcome of community-based education (CBE) in UK medical schools.
Design and data sources
An online survey of UK medical school websites and course prospectuses and a systematic review of articles from PubMed and Web of Science were conducted. Articles in the systematic review were assessed using Rossi, Lipsey and Freeman's approach to programme evaluation.
Study selection
Publications from November 1998 to 2013 containing information related to community teaching in undergraduate medical courses were included.
Out of the 32 undergraduate UK medical schools, one was excluded due to the lack of course specifications available online. Analysis of the remaining 31 medical schools showed that a variety of CBE models are utilised in medical schools across the UK. Twenty-eight medical schools (90.3%) provide CBE in some form by the end of the first year of undergraduate training, and 29 medical schools (93.5%) by the end of the second year. From the 1378 references identified, 29 papers met the inclusion criteria for assessment. It was found that CBE mostly provided advantages to students as well as other participants, including GP tutors and patients. However, there were a few concerns regarding the lack of GP tutors’ knowledge in specialty areas, the negative impact that CBE may have on the delivery of health service in education settings and the cost of CBE.
Despite the wide variations in implementation, community teaching was found to be mostly beneficial. To ensure the relevance of CBE for ‘Tomorrow's Doctors’, a national framework should be established, and solutions sought to reduce the impact of the challenges within CBE.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This is the first study to review how community-based education is currently provided throughout Medical Schools in the UK. The use of Rossi, Lipsey and Freeman's method of programme evaluation means that the literature was analysed in a consistent and comprehensive way. However, a weakness is that data from the online survey was obtained from online medical school prospectuses. This means the data may be incomplete or out of date. Data in the literature review may also be skewed by publication bias.
PMCID: PMC4256542  PMID: 25448625
15.  Learning contexts at Two UK medical schools: A comparative study using mixed methods 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:153.
The context in which learning takes place exerts a powerful effect on the approach learners take to their work. In some instances learners will be forced by the nature of a task to adopt a less-favoured approach.
In this study, we used a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to compare the effect of context on learning at different UK medical schools. We compared schools with conventional, and problem-based curricula.
We had collected data from 30 interviews with third year medical students in one UK medical school with a conventional, lecture-based curriculum in relation to a previous study. The interview guide had explored effects of context and approach to learning. We used the same guide to interview 6 students in another UK medical school with a problem-based curriculum.
We then put together a pack of validated questionnaires, which measured the phenomena that had emerged in the interviews. In particular we selected questionnaires which measured the criteria on which students from the different schools appeared to demonstrate greatest variance.
There were two areas where students from schools with differing curricula differed - basic learning activity and assessment. Students at the lecture-based school attended lectures where they received information while students at the Problem-based school attended tutorials where they stimulated prior knowledge and identified new learning objectives. Progress -testing at the problem-based school helped students gain a sense of accumulating a body of knowledge needed for their life in medicine while students' at the lecture-based school directed their learning towards passing the next set of exams.
The findings from quantitative, questionnaire data correlated with the interview findings. They showed that students at a school with a PBL curriculum scored significantly higher for reflection in learning, self-efficacy in self-directed learning and for deep approach to learning.
We set out to determine whether students at different medical schools approach their learning differently. We have succeeded in demonstrating that this is the case.
The differences that we detected in learning context and approaches to learning in medical students at the two schools predict that learning at the non PBL school is likely to be via a surface approach and not integrated. These differences have major implications for the outcomes of medical student learning at the two schools in terms of accessibility and sustainability of learning.
PMCID: PMC3327637  PMID: 22429681
16.  Use of UKCAT scores in student selection by UK medical schools, 2006-2010 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:98.
The United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) is a set of cognitive tests introduced in 2006, taken annually before application to medical school. The UKCAT is a test of aptitude and not acquired knowledge and as such the results give medical schools a standardised and objective tool that all schools could use to assist their decision making in selection, and so provide a fairer means of choosing future medical students.
Selection of students for UK medical schools is usually in three stages: assessment of academic qualifications, assessment of further qualities from the application form submitted via UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) leading to invitation to interview, and then selection for offer of a place. Medical schools were informed of the psychometric qualities of the UKCAT subtests and given some guidance regarding the interpretation of results. Each school then decided how to use the results within its own selection system.
Annual retrospective key informant telephone interviews were conducted with every UKCAT Consortium medical school, using a pre-circulated structured questionnaire. The key points of the interview were transcribed, 'member checked' and a content analysis was undertaken.
Four equally popular ways of using the test results have emerged, described as Borderline, Factor, Threshold and Rescue methods. Many schools use more than one method, at different stages in their selection process. Schools have used the scores in ways that have sought to improve the fairness of selection and support widening participation. Initially great care was taken not to exclude any applicant on the basis of low UKCAT scores alone but it has been used more as confidence has grown.
There is considerable variation in how medical schools use UKCAT, so it is important that they clearly inform applicants how the test will be used so they can make best use of their limited number of applications.
PMCID: PMC3248371  PMID: 22114935
17.  Predicting academic outcomes in an Australian graduate entry medical programme 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14:31.
Predictive validity studies for selection criteria into graduate entry courses in Australia have been inconsistent in their outcomes. One of the reasons for this inconsistency may have been failure to have adequately considered background disciplines of the graduates as well as other potential confounding socio-demographic variables that may influence academic performance.
Graduate entrants into the MBBS at The University of Western Australia between 2005 and 2012 were studied (N = 421). They undertook a 6-month bridging course, before joining the undergraduate-entry students for Years 3 through 6 of the medical course. Students were selected using their undergraduate Grade Point Average (GPA), Graduate Australian Medical School Admissions Test scores (GAMSAT) and a score from a standardised interview. Students could apply from any background discipline and could also be selected through an alternative rural entry pathway again utilising these 3 entry scores. Entry scores, together with age, gender, discipline background, rural entry status and a socioeconomic indicator were entered into linear regression models to determine the relative influence of each predictor on subsequent academic performance in the course.
Background discipline, age, gender and selection through the rural pathway were variously related to each of the 3 entry criteria. Their subsequent inclusion in linear regression models identified GPA at entry, being from a health/allied health background and total GAMSAT score as consistent independent predictors of stronger academic performance as measured by the weighted average mark for the core units completed throughout the course. The Interview score only weakly predicted performance later in the course and mainly in clinically-based units. The association of total GAMSAT score with academic performance was predominantly dictated by the score in GAMSAT Section 3 (Reasoning in the biological and physical sciences) with Section 1 (Reasoning in the humanities and social sciences) and Section 2 (Written communication) also contributing either later or early in the course respectively. Being from a more disadvantaged socioeconomic background predicted weaker academic performance early in the course. Being an older student at entry or from a humanities background also predicted weaker academic performance.
This study confirms that both GPA at entry and the GAMSAT score together predict outcomes not only in the early stages of a graduate-entry medical programme but throughout the course. It also indicates that a comprehensive evaluation of the predictive validity of GAMSAT scores, interview scores and undergraduate academic performance as valid selection processes for graduate entry into medical school needs to simultaneously consider the potential confounding influence of graduate discipline background and other socio-demographic factors on both the initial selection parameters themselves as well as subsequent academic performance.
PMCID: PMC3931285  PMID: 24528509
18.  Western medical ethics taught to junior medical students can cross cultural and linguistic boundaries 
BMC Medical Ethics  2004;5:4.
Little is known about teaching medical ethics across cultural and linguistic boundaries. This study examined two successive cohorts of first year medical students in a six year undergraduate MBBS program.
The objective was to investigate whether Arabic speaking students studying medicine in an Arabic country would be able to correctly identify some of the principles of Western medical ethical reasoning. This cohort study was conducted on first year students in a six-year undergraduate program studying medicine in English, their second language at a medical school in the Arabian Gulf. The ethics teaching was based on the four-principle approach (autonomy, beneficence, non-malfeasance and justice) and delivered by a non-Muslim native English speaker with no knowledge of the Arabic language. Although the course was respectful of Arabic culture and tradition, the content excluded an analysis of Islamic medical ethics and focused on Western ethical reasoning. Following two 45-minute interactive seminars, students in groups of 3 or 4 visited a primary health care centre for one morning, sitting in with an attending physician seeing his or her patients in Arabic. Each student submitted a personal report for summative assessment detailing the ethical issues they had observed.
All 62 students enrolled in these courses participated. Each student acting independently was able to correctly identify a median number of 4 different medical ethical issues (range 2–9) and correctly identify and label accurately a median of 2 different medical ethical issues (range 2–7) There were no significant correlations between their English language skills or general academic ability and the number or accuracy of ethical issues identified.
This study has demonstrated that these students could identify medical ethical issues based on Western constructs, despite learning in English, their second language, being in the third week of their medical school experience and with minimal instruction. This result was independent of their academic and English language skills suggesting that ethical principles as espoused in the four principal approach may be common to the students' Islamic religious beliefs, allowing them to access complex medical ethical reasoning skills at an early stage in the medical curriculum.
PMCID: PMC509252  PMID: 15283868
19.  Can personal qualities of medical students predict in-course examination success and professional behaviour? An exploratory prospective cohort study 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:69.
Over two-thirds of UK medical schools are augmenting their selection procedures for medical students by using the United Kingdom Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT), which employs tests of cognitive and non-cognitive personal qualities, but clear evidence of the tests’ predictive validity is lacking. This study explores whether academic performance and professional behaviours that are important in a health professional context can be predicted by these measures, when taken before or very early in the medical course.
This prospective cohort study follows the progress of the entire student cohort who entered Hull York Medical School in September 2007, having taken the UKCAT cognitive tests in 2006 and the non-cognitive tests a year later. This paper reports on the students’ first and second academic years of study. The main outcome measures were regular, repeated tutor assessment of individual students’ interpersonal skills and professional behaviour, and annual examination performance in the three domains of recall and application of knowledge, evaluation of data, and communication and practical clinical skills. The relationships between non-cognitive test scores, cognitive test scores, tutor assessments and examination results were explored using the Pearson product–moment correlations for each group of data; the data for students obtaining the top and bottom 20% of the summative examination results were compared using Analysis of Variance.
Personal qualities measured by non-cognitive tests showed a number of statistically significant relationships with ratings of behaviour made by tutors, with performance in each year’s objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs), and with themed written summative examination marks in each year. Cognitive ability scores were also significantly related to each year’s examination results, but seldom to professional behaviours. The top 20% of examination achievers could be differentiated from the bottom 20% on both non-cognitive and cognitive measures.
This study shows numerous significant relationships between both cognitive and non-cognitive test scores, academic examination scores and indicators of professional behaviours in medical students. This suggests that measurement of non-cognitive personal qualities in applicants to medical school could make a useful contribution to selection and admission decisions. Further research is required in larger representative groups, and with more refined predictor measures and behavioural assessment methods, to establish beyond doubt the incremental validity of such measures over conventional cognitive assessments.
PMCID: PMC3473297  PMID: 22873571
20.  Can Medical School Performance Predict Residency Performance? Resident Selection and Predictors of Successful Performance in Obstetrics and Gynecology 
During the evaluation process, Residency Admissions Committees typically gather data on objective and subjective measures of a medical student's performance through the Electronic Residency Application Service, including medical school grades, standardized test scores, research achievements, nonacademic accomplishments, letters of recommendation, the dean's letter, and personal statements. Using these data to identify which medical students are likely to become successful residents in an academic residency program in obstetrics and gynecology is difficult and to date, not well studied.
To determine whether objective information in medical students' applications can help predict resident success.
We performed a retrospective cohort study of all residents who matched into the Johns Hopkins University residency program in obstetrics and gynecology between 1994 and 2004 and entered the program through the National Resident Matching Program as a postgraduate year-1 resident. Residents were independently evaluated by faculty and ranked in 4 groups according to perceived level of success. Applications from residents in the highest and lowest group were abstracted. Groups were compared using the Fisher exact test and the Student t test.
Seventy-five residents met inclusion criteria and 29 residents were ranked in the highest and lowest quartiles (15 in highest, 14 in lowest). Univariate analysis identified no variables as consistent predictors of resident success.
In a program designed to train academic obstetrician-gynecologists, objective data from medical students' applications did not correlate with successful resident performance in our obstetrics-gynecology residency program. We need to continue our search for evaluation criteria that can accurately and reliably select the medical students that are best fit for our specialty.
PMCID: PMC2951767  PMID: 21976076
21.  Serious Shortcomings in the Management of Children with Anaphylaxis in Scottish Schools 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(8):e326.
The United Kingdom incidence of anaphylaxis has increased very sharply over the last decade, with the highest rates of hospital admissions occurring in school-aged children. This raises concerns about the extent to which schools are aware of approaches to the prevention and treatment of anaphylaxis.
Methods and Findings
We undertook a national postal survey of 250 Scottish schools enquiring about approaches to managing children considered to be at risk of anaphylaxis. We obtained responses from 148 (60%) schools, 90 (61%) of which reported having at least one at risk child. Most (80%) schools with children considered to be at risk reported having personalised care plans and invariably reported having at least one member of staff trained in the emergency treatment of anaphylaxis. Access to adrenaline was available on-site in 97% of these schools. However, significantly fewer schools without children considered to be at risk reported having a trained member of staff (48%, p < 0.001), with access to adrenaline being very poor (12%, p < 0.001). Overall, 59% of respondents did not feel confident in their school's ability to respond in an emergency situation.
Most schools with children considered to be at risk of anaphylaxis report using personal care plans and having a member of staff trained in the use of, and with access to, adrenaline. The picture is, however, less encouraging in schools without known at risk children, both in relation to staff training and access to adrenaline. The majority of schools with at risk children have poorly developed strategies for preventing food-triggered anaphylaxis reactions. There is a need for detailed national guidelines for all schools, which the Scottish Executive must now ensure are developed and implemented.
Schools whose officials know that some of their pupils have serious allergies are often prepared to deal with emergencies, but many don't have good plans for exposure prevention. When there is no knowledge of specific pupils at risk, neither preparedness nor prevention efforts are widespread.
Editors' Summary
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can cause a drop in blood pressure and swelling of the body tissues (swelling of the neck and throat and narrowing of the airways can make it hard to breathe). The reaction can be triggered by foods, such as peanuts or eggs, or by bee stings, natural latex (rubber), and certain drugs such as penicillin. Foods are the most common trigger in children. In the United Kingdom, thousands of people develop anaphylaxis each year, and the number appears to be increasing. If anaphylaxis is severe, a patient will need to be hospitalized, and the highest risk of hospitalization is in school-aged children. About 20 people die each year in the United Kingdom from anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can develop both in people known to have a tendency (risk) of getting the condition and in those with no known risk.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers wanted to find out how many school children there were in Scotland with a known risk of developing anaphylaxis. They also wanted to know how many schools were taking steps to minimize these children's risk of getting anaphylaxis during school hours (the risk can be reduced, for example, by prohibiting children from sharing food and eating utensils). Finally, they wanted to find out how many schools had the necessary equipment and trained staff to treat a child that develops anaphylaxis on site.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers sent a questionnaire in the mail to 250 Scottish schools. They received replies from 148 schools, of which 90 reported having at least one child with a known risk of developing anaphylaxis. Most of the schools (80%) that had children at risk had at least one staff member trained to treat anaphylaxis, and 97% of these schools had the drug adrenaline (epinephrine) on site, which is a lifesaving medication for treating anaphylaxis. But many of these schools were doing poorly at reducing the risk of anaphylaxis—for example, only one in three of these schools banned the sharing of eating utensils. Another worrying finding was that among the 58 schools that did not have children known to be at risk of anaphylaxis, less than half had a trained member of staff, and only about one in eight of these schools had adrenaline on site.
What Do These Findings Mean?
It is reassuring that most schools in Scotland that have children known to be at risk of anaphylaxis are well equipped to deal with this emergency if it occurs. But many of these schools are not doing enough to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis occurring. It is worrying that schools that don't have children known to be at risk are often very poorly equipped to deal with anaphylaxis. One weakness of this study is that 102 schools never replied to the questionnaire, so we can't know how well prepared these schools are for dealing with anaphylaxis. Nevertheless, the study suggests that there needs to be detailed guidance for all schools in Scotland on preventing and treating anaphylaxis.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
NHS Direct page on anaphylaxis
MedlinePlus page on anaphylaxis
Mayo Clinic page on anaphylaxis
Wikipedia entry on anaphylaxis (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
PMCID: PMC1551918  PMID: 16933965
22.  Patient safety education for undergraduate medical students: a systematic review 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:33.
To reduce harm caused by health care is a global priority. Medical students should be able to recognize unsafe conditions, systematically report errors and near misses, investigate and improve such systems with a thorough understanding of human fallibility, and disclose errors to patients. Incorporating the knowledge of how to do this into the medical student curriculum is an urgent necessity. This paper aims to systematically review the literature about patient safety education for undergraduate medical students in terms of its content, teaching strategies, faculty availability and resources provided so as to identify evidence on how to promote patient safety in the curriculum for medical schools. This paper includes a perspective from the faculty of a medical school, a major hospital and an Evidence Based Medicine Centre in Sichuan Province, China.
We searched MEDLINE, ERIC, Academic Source Premier(ASP), EMBASE and three Chinese Databases (Chinese Biomedical Literature Database, CBM; China National Knowledge Infrastructure, CNKI; Wangfang Data) from 1980 to Dec. 2009. The pre-specified form of inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed for literature screening. The quality of included studies was assessed using Darcy Reed and Gemma Flores-Mateo criteria. Two reviewers selected the studies, undertook quality assessment, and data extraction independently. Differing opinions were resolved by consensus or with help from the third person.
This was a descriptive study of a total of seven studies that met the selection criteria. There were no relevant Chinese studies to be included. Only one study included patient safety education in the medical curriculum and the remaining studies integrated patient safety into clinical rotations or medical clerkships. Seven studies were of a pre and post study design, of which there was only one controlled study. There was considerable variation in relation to contents, teaching strategies, faculty knowledge and background in patient safety, other resources and outcome evaluation in these reports. The outcomes from including patient safety in the curriculum as measured by medical students' knowledge, skills, and attitudes varied between the studies.
There are only a few relevant published studies on the inclusion of patient safety education into the undergraduate curriculum in medical schools either as a selective course, a lecture program, or by being integrated into the existing curriculum even in developed countries with advanced health and education systems. The integration of patient safety education into the existing curriculum in medical schools internationally, provides significant challenges.
PMCID: PMC3128569  PMID: 21669007
23.  To what extent does the Health Professions Admission Test-Ireland predict performance in early undergraduate tests of communication and clinical skills? – An observational cohort study 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:68.
Internationally, tests of general mental ability are used in the selection of medical students. Examples include the Medical College Admission Test, Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test and the UK Clinical Aptitude Test. The most widely used measure of their efficacy is predictive validity.
A new tool, the Health Professions Admission Test- Ireland (HPAT-Ireland), was introduced in 2009. Traditionally, selection to Irish undergraduate medical schools relied on academic achievement. Since 2009, Irish and EU applicants are selected on a combination of their secondary school academic record (measured predominately by the Leaving Certificate Examination) and HPAT-Ireland score. This is the first study to report on the predictive validity of the HPAT-Ireland for early undergraduate assessments of communication and clinical skills.
Students enrolled at two Irish medical schools in 2009 were followed up for two years. Data collected were gender, HPAT-Ireland total and subsection scores; Leaving Certificate Examination plus HPAT-Ireland combined score, Year 1 Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) scores (Total score, communication and clinical subtest scores), Year 1 Multiple Choice Questions and Year 2 OSCE and subset scores. We report descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation coefficients and Multiple linear regression models.
Data were available for 312 students. In Year 1 none of the selection criteria were significantly related to student OSCE performance. The Leaving Certificate Examination and Leaving Certificate plus HPAT-Ireland combined scores correlated with MCQ marks.
In Year 2 a series of significant correlations emerged between the HPAT-Ireland and subsections thereof with OSCE Communication Z-scores; OSCE Clinical Z-scores; and Total OSCE Z-scores. However on multiple regression only the relationship between Total OSCE Score and the Total HPAT-Ireland score remained significant; albeit the predictive power was modest.
We found that none of our selection criteria strongly predict clinical and communication skills. The HPAT- Ireland appears to measures ability in domains different to those assessed by the Leaving Certificate Examination. While some significant associations did emerge in Year 2 between HPAT Ireland and total OSCE scores further evaluation is required to establish if this pattern continues during the senior years of the medical course.
PMCID: PMC3667098  PMID: 23663266
Selection; Medical; Student; Validity; Predictive; HPAT-Ireland; Assessment; Cognitive; Ability
24.  Indian medical students in public and private sector medical schools: are motivations and career aspirations different? – studies from Madhya Pradesh, India 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:127.
In recent years, there has been a massive growth in the private medical education sector in South Asia. India’s large private medical education sector reflects the market driven growth in private medical education. Admission criteria to public medical schools are based on qualifying examination scores, while admission into private institutions is often dependent on relative academic merit, but also very much on the ability of the student to afford the education. This paper from Madhya Pradesh province in India aims to study and compare between first year medical students in public and private sector medical schools (i) motives for choosing a medical education (ii) career aspirations on completion of a medical degree (iii) willingness to work in a rural area in the short and long terms.
Cross sectional survey of 792 first year medical students in 5 public and 4 private medical schools in the province.
There were no significant differences in the background characteristics of students in public and private medical schools. Reasons for entering medical education included personal ambition (23%), parental desire (23%), prestigious/secure profession (25%) or a service motive (20%). Most students wished to pursue a specialization (91%) and work in urban areas (64%) of the country. A small proportion (7%) wished to work abroad. There were no differences in motives or career aspirations between students of public or private schools. 40% were willing to work in a rural area for 2 years after graduating; public school students were more willing to do so.
There was little difference in background characteristics, motives for entering medicine or career aspirations between medical students in from public and private sector institutions.
PMCID: PMC3851318  PMID: 24034988
Motivation; Aspirations; Medical students; Public- private; India
25.  Medical student selection criteria as predictors of intended rural practice following graduation 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):218.
Recruiting medical students from a rural background, together with offering them opportunities for prolonged immersion in rural clinical training environments, both lead to increased participation in the rural workforce after graduation. We have now assessed the extent to which medical students’ intentions to practice rurally may also be predicted by either medical school selection criteria and/or student socio-demographic profiles.
The study cohort included 538 secondary school-leaver entrants to The University of Western Australia Medical School from 2006 to 2011. On entry they completed a questionnaire indicating intention for either urban or rural practice following graduation. Selection factors (standardised interview score, percentile score from the Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) and prior academic performance (Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank), together with socio-demographic factors (age, gender, decile for the Index of Relative Socioeconomic Advantage and Disadvantage (IRSAD) and an index of rurality) were examined in relation to intended rural or urban destination of practice.
In multivariate logistic regression, students from a rural background had a nearly 8-fold increase in the odds of intention to practice rurally after graduation compared to those from urban backgrounds (OR 7.84, 95% CI 4.10, 14.99, P < 0.001). Those intending to be generalists rather than specialists had a more than 4-fold increase in the odds of intention to practice rurally (OR 4.36, 95% CI 1.69, 11.22, P < 0.001). After controlling for these 2 factors, those with rural intent had significantly lower academic entry scores (P = 0.002) and marginally lower interview scores (P = 0.045). UMAT percentile scores were no different. Those intending to work in a rural location were also more likely to be female (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.08, 3.48, P = 0.027), to come from the lower eight IRSAD deciles (OR 2.52, 95% CI 1.47, 4.32, P = 0.001) and to come from Government vs independent schools (OR 2.02, 95% CI 1.15, 3.55, P = 0.015).
Very high academic scores generally required for medical school entry may have the unintended consequence of selecting fewer graduates interested in a rural practice destination. Increased efforts to recruit students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds may be beneficial in terms of an ultimate intended rural practice destination.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-218) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4287212  PMID: 25315743

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