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1.  Medical students’ assessment preferences at King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia 
Objective
To assess the preferred methods for assessment among medical students at both preclinical and clinical stages of medical education and the possible correlates that promote these preferences.
Subjects and methods
All medical students from the third year onwards were surveyed. A self-administered anonymous questionnaire was designed to gather information on the preferred assessment method for course achievement. The preferred methods were also evaluated in relation to cognitive functions. Preference for specific exam format, in the form of multiple choices, short essay questions, or both, and the stated reasons for that preference, was also included in the questionnaire.
Results
Out of 310 questionnaires distributed, 238 were returned. Written tests, projects, portfolios, and take home exams were the preferred modes for assessing students’ achievements in a course; oral tests including a viva voce were the least preferred type of assessment. Questions that tested the domains of ‘understanding’ and ‘application’ were the most preferred type while those entailing ‘analysis’ were the least preferred. Multiple choice question format was the most preferred type of question (68.7%) at both pre- and clinical stages.
Conclusion
Students’ assessments at the College of Medicine, King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia, do not use the full range of cognitive domains. The emphasis on higher domains for medical students’ assessment incorporating critical thinking should increase as the students’ progress through their medical courses.
doi:10.2147/AMEP.S12950
PMCID: PMC3661244  PMID: 23745080
medical students; assessment; exams; multiple choices; essay
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.
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.3402/meo.v19.22919
PMCID: PMC3974177  PMID: 24695362
admissions; underperformance; selection; at-risk students
3.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-69
PMCID: PMC3473297  PMID: 22873571
4.  Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine: a student-selected component at the Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University 
Background
Evidence-based medicine (EBM) involves approaching a clinical problem using a four-step method: (1) formulate a clear clinical question from a patient’s problem, (2) search the literature for relevant clinical articles, (3) evaluate (critically appraise) the evidence for its validity and usefulness, (4) implement useful findings into clinical practice. EBM has now been incorporated as an integral part of the medical curriculum in many faculties of medicine around the world. The Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, started its process of curriculum reform and introduction of the new curriculum 4 years ago. One of the most characteristic aspects of this curriculum is the introduction of special study modules and electives as a student-selected component in the fourth year of study; the Introduction to Evidence-Based Medicine course was included as one of these special study modules. The purpose of this article is to evaluate the EBM skills of medical students after completing the course and their perceptions of the faculty member delivering the course and organization of the course.
Materials and methods
The EBM course was held for the first time as a special study module for fourth-year medical students in the first semester of the academic year 2009–2010. Fifteen students were enrolled in this course. At the end of the course, students anonymously evaluated aspects of the course regarding their EBM skills and course organization using a five- point Likert scale in response to an online course evaluation questionnaire. In addition, students’ achievement was evaluated with regard to the skills and competencies taught in the course.
Results
Medical students generally gave high scores to all aspects of the EBM course, including course organization, course delivery, methods of assessment, and overall. Scores were also high for students’ self-evaluation of skill level and EBM experience. The results of a faculty member’s evaluation of the students’ achievement showed an average total percentage (92.2%) for all EBM steps.
Conclusion
The EBM course at the Faculty of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, is useful for familiarizing medical students with the basic principles of EBM and to help them in answering routine questions of clinical interest in a systematic way. In light of the results obtained from implementing this course with a small number of students, and as a student-selected component, the author believes integrating EBM longitudinally throughout the curriculum would be beneficial for King Abdulaziz University medical students. It would provide a foundation of knowledge, offer easy access to resources, promote point-of-care and team learning, help students to develop applicable skills for lifelong learning, and help the faculty to achieve its goals of becoming more student-centered and encouraging students to employ more self-directed learning strategies.
doi:10.2147/AMEP.S25276
PMCID: PMC3661260  PMID: 23745093
student-selected component; evidence-based medicine; learning; curriculum
5.  The role of critical thinking skills and learning styles of university students in their academic performance 
Introduction: The Current world needs people who have a lot of different abilities such as cognition and application of different ways of thinking, research, problem solving, critical thinking skills and creativity. In addition to critical thinking, learning styles is another key factor which has an essential role in the process of problem solving. This study aimed to determine the relationship between learning styles and critical thinking of students and their academic performance in Alborz University of Medical Science.
Methods: This cross-correlation study was performed in 2012, on 216 students of Alborz University who were selected randomly by the stratified random sampling. The data was obtained via a three-part questionnaire included demographic data, Kolb standardized questionnaire of learning style and California critical thinking standardized questionnaire. The academic performance of the students was extracted by the school records. The validity of the instruments was determined in terms of content validity, and the reliability was gained through internal consistency methods. Cronbach's alpha coefficient was found to be 0.78 for the California critical thinking questionnaire. The Chi Square test, Independent t-test, one way ANOVA and Pearson correlation test were used to determine relationship between variables. The Package SPSS14 statistical software was used to analyze data with a significant level of p<0.05.
Results: Our findings indicated the significant difference of mean score in four learning style, suggesting university students with convergent learning style have better performance than other groups. Also learning style had a relationship with age, gender, field of study, semester and job. The results about the critical thinking of the students showed that the mean of deductive reasoning and evaluation skills were higher than that of other skills and analytical skills had the lowest mean and there was a positive significant relationship between the students’ performance with inferential skill and the total score of critical thinking skills (p<0.05). Furthermore, evaluation skills and deductive reasoning had significant relationship. On the other hand, the mean total score of critical thinking had significant difference between different learning styles.
Conclusion: The results of this study showed that the learning styles, critical thinking and academic performance are significantly associated with one another. Considering the growing importance of critical thinking in enhancing the professional competence of individuals, it's recommended to use teaching methods consistent with the learning style because it would be more effective in this context.
PMCID: PMC4235550  PMID: 25512928
Learning; Performance; Student
6.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001037.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001037
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
7.  MORBIDITY PATTERNS AMONG KING FAISAL UNIVERSITY STUDENTS, AL HASSA, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA 
Objectives:
To explore the prevalent morbidity problems among students at King Faisal University. To identify the nature of referred cases and assess the efficiency of the referral system.
Subjects and Methods:
This was a retrospective, records-based descriptive study, involving the examination of the health records of students at King Faisal University, who attended the Medical Center for Primary Health Care services in a five-year period. A pre-tested compilation sheet was used for data collection.
Results:
Out of 2472 consultations, about 58 % of the diagnosed morbidity conditions were of infectious nature, mostly affecting the respiratory (62%), dental (14%), gastrointestinal (7%), and skin infections (5 %), with more prevalence among males. The non-infectious morbidity conditions were recorded more among females and included muscle and joints problems (16 %), allergic conditions (15 %), gastrointestinal (8 %), and trauma (5 %). Some of the encountered morbidity demonstrated seasonal variation. Case referrals were about 6 %, more in the non-infectious conditions, with a deficient feedback system.
Conclusion:
Quality improvement of the medical records and the establishment of a proper referral system are necessary. Health education on preventable morbid conditions should be organized and implemented.
PMCID: PMC3410118  PMID: 23012142
Morbidity; Medical Records; University students
8.  Thinking about Thinking and Emotion: The Metacognitive Approach to the Medical Humanities that Integrates the Humanities with the Basic and Clinical Sciences 
The Permanente Journal  2014;18(4):64-75.
The explosion in medical knowledge has exceeded the capacity of the individual human brain to absorb the entirety of this knowledge. This suggests we can no longer expect medical students to continue simply memorizing facts. Instead, we must develop in students a competency as flexible thinkers and agile learners so they can adeptly deal with new knowledge, complexity, and uncertainty in a rapidly changing world. Such a competency would entail not only cognitive but also emotional skills essential for the holistic development of their professional identity. This article will argue that meta-cognition—“thinking about thinking (and emotion)”—offers the most viable path toward developing this competency.
Medical knowledge in recent decades has grown prodigiously and has outstripped the capacity of the human brain to absorb and understand it all. This burgeoning of knowledge has created a dilemma for medical educators. We can no longer expect students to continue memorizing this large body of increasingly complex knowledge. Instead, our efforts should be redirected at developing in students a competency as flexible thinkers and agile learners so they can adeptly deal with new knowledge, complexity, and uncertainty in a rapidly changing world. Such a competency would entail not only cognitive but also emotional skills essential for the holistic development of their professional identity. This article will argue that metacognition—“thinking about thinking (and emotion)”—offers the most viable path toward developing this competency.
The overwhelming volume of medical knowledge has driven some medical schools to reduce the time allocated in their curricula to the “soft-option” humanities as they tend to consider them an expendable “luxury.” Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, has moved away from the traditional conception of the medical humanities as “the arts,” composed of art, music, and literature, toward an approach that integrates the humanities with the basic and clinical sciences, based on metacognition. This metacognitive approach to the humanities, described in this article, has three goals: 1) to develop students as flexible thinkers and agile learners and to provide them with essential cognitive and emotional skills for navigating medical complexity and uncertainty; 2) to elicit in students empathy and tolerance by making them aware of the immense diversity in human cognition (and emotion); and 3) to integrate the humanities with the basic and clinical sciences.
Through this metacognitive approach, students come to understand their patterns of cognition and emotions, and in the group setting, they learn to mindfully calibrate their thinking and emotions. They gain a humbling appreciation of the fallibility of the human mind/brain and how cognitive biases and misperceptions can lead to medical error. They come to appreciate the complex interplay between cognition and emotion, and the importance of cognitive monitoring and emotional regulation.
In the group setting, students also gain a sense of perspective of their thinking patterns and emotions in relation to those of their peers. Perspective taking and mindfulness engender tolerance and empathy, which ultimately serves as a platform for working collaboratively in teams as medical professionals. Students become aware of the social context in which thinking and learning occur, and this further shapes their professional identity. Thinking, learning, and interacting in the group setting ultimately induces a shift from self-preoccupation and an individualistic approach to knowledge toward an appreciation of collective cognition and empathy towards others.
In this article, I describe the metacognitive approach to the medical humanities at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and how it is designed to develop students as agile learners and flexible thinkers with the mindful capacity for cognitive and emotional monitoring and regulation. Thinking and learning in the group setting of the colloquium ultimately also fosters the student’s professional identity.
doi:10.7812/TPP/14-027
PMCID: PMC4206174
9.  Computerized Cognitive Training in Cognitively Healthy Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Effect Modifiers 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(11):e1001756.
Michael Valenzuela and colleagues systematically review and meta-analyze the evidence that computerized cognitive training improves cognitive skills in older adults with normal cognition.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
New effective interventions to attenuate age-related cognitive decline are a global priority. Computerized cognitive training (CCT) is believed to be safe and can be inexpensive, but neither its efficacy in enhancing cognitive performance in healthy older adults nor the impact of design factors on such efficacy has been systematically analyzed. Our aim therefore was to quantitatively assess whether CCT programs can enhance cognition in healthy older adults, discriminate responsive from nonresponsive cognitive domains, and identify the most salient design factors.
Methods and Findings
We systematically searched Medline, Embase, and PsycINFO for relevant studies from the databases' inception to 9 July 2014. Eligible studies were randomized controlled trials investigating the effects of ≥4 h of CCT on performance in neuropsychological tests in older adults without dementia or other cognitive impairment. Fifty-two studies encompassing 4,885 participants were eligible. Intervention designs varied considerably, but after removal of one outlier, heterogeneity across studies was small (I2 = 29.92%). There was no systematic evidence of publication bias. The overall effect size (Hedges' g, random effects model) for CCT versus control was small and statistically significant, g = 0.22 (95% CI 0.15 to 0.29). Small to moderate effect sizes were found for nonverbal memory, g = 0.24 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.38); verbal memory, g = 0.08 (95% CI 0.01 to 0.15); working memory (WM), g = 0.22 (95% CI 0.09 to 0.35); processing speed, g = 0.31 (95% CI 0.11 to 0.50); and visuospatial skills, g = 0.30 (95% CI 0.07 to 0.54). No significant effects were found for executive functions and attention. Moderator analyses revealed that home-based administration was ineffective compared to group-based training, and that more than three training sessions per week was ineffective versus three or fewer. There was no evidence for the effectiveness of WM training, and only weak evidence for sessions less than 30 min. These results are limited to healthy older adults, and do not address the durability of training effects.
Conclusions
CCT is modestly effective at improving cognitive performance in healthy older adults, but efficacy varies across cognitive domains and is largely determined by design choices. Unsupervised at-home training and training more than three times per week are specifically ineffective. Further research is required to enhance efficacy of the intervention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
As we get older, we notice many bodily changes. Our hair goes grey, we develop new aches and pains, and getting out of bed in the morning takes longer than it did when we were young. Our brain may also show signs of aging. It may take us longer to learn new information, we may lose our keys more frequently, and we may forget people's names. Cognitive decline—developing worsened thinking, language, memory, understanding, and judgment—can be a normal part of aging, but it can also be an early sign of dementia, a group of brain disorders characterized by a severe, irreversible decline in cognitive functions. We know that age-related physical decline can be attenuated by keeping physically active; similarly, engaging in activities that stimulate the brain throughout life is thought to enhance cognition in later life and reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and dementia. Thus, having an active social life and doing challenging activities that stimulate both the brain and the body may help to stave off cognitive decline.
Why Was This Study Done?
“Brain training” may be another way of keeping mentally fit. The sale of computerized cognitive training (CCT) packages, which provide standardized, cognitively challenging tasks designed to “exercise” various cognitive functions, is a lucrative and expanding business. But does CCT work? Given the rising global incidence of dementia, effective interventions that attenuate age-related cognitive decline are urgently needed. However, the impact of CCT on cognitive performance in older adults is unclear, and little is known about what makes a good CCT package. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers assess whether CCT programs improve cognitive test performance in cognitively healthy older adults and identify the aspects of cognition (cognitive domains) that are responsive to CCT, and the CCT design features that are most important in improving cognitive performance. A systematic review uses pre-defined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; meta-analysis uses statistical methods to combine the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 51 trials that investigated the effects of more than four hours of CCT on nearly 5,000 cognitively healthy older adults by measuring several cognitive functions before and after CCT. Meta-analysis of these studies indicated that the overall effect size for CCT (compared to control individuals who did not participate in CCT) was small but statistically significant. An effect size quantifies the difference between two groups; a statistically significant result is a result that is unlikely to have occurred by chance. So, the meta-analysis suggests that CCT slightly increased overall cognitive function. Notably, CCT also had small to moderate significant effects on individual cognitive functions. For example, some CCT slightly improved nonverbal memory (the ability to remember visual images) and working memory (the ability to remember recent events; short-term memory). However, CCT had no significant effect on executive functions (cognitive processes involved in planning and judgment) or attention (selective concentration on one aspect of the environment). The design of CCT used in the different studies varied considerably, and “moderator” analyses revealed that home-based CCT was not effective, whereas center-based CCT was effective, and that training sessions undertaken more than three times a week were not effective. There was also some weak evidence suggesting that CCT sessions lasting less than 30 minutes may be ineffective. Finally, there was no evidence for the effectiveness of working memory training by itself (for example, programs that ask individuals to recall series of letters).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that CCT produces small improvements in cognitive performance in cognitively healthy older adults but that the efficacy of CCT varies across cognitive domains and is largely determined by design aspects of CCT. The most important result was that “do-it-yourself” CCT at home did not produce improvements. Rather, the small improvements seen were in individuals supervised by a trainer in a center and undergoing sessions 1–3 times a week. Because only cognitively healthy older adults were enrolled in the studies considered in this systematic review and meta-analysis, these findings do not necessarily apply to cognitively impaired individuals. Moreover, because all the included studies measured cognitive function immediately after CCT, these findings provide no information about the durability of the effects of CCT or about how the effects of CCT on cognitive function translate into real-life outcomes for individuals such as independence and the long-term risk of dementia. The researchers call, therefore, for additional research into CCT, an intervention that might help to attenuate age-related cognitive decline and improve the quality of life for older individuals.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001756.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Druin Burch
The US National Institute on Aging provides information for patients and carers about age-related forgetfulness, about memory and cognitive health, and about dementia (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about dementia and about memory loss
MedlinePlus provides links to additional resources about memory, mild cognitive impairment, and dementia (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001756
PMCID: PMC4236015  PMID: 25405755
10.  The phenomenology of premenstrual syndrome in female medical students: a cross sectional study 
Background
The premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is particularly common in the younger age groups and, therefore represents a significant public health problem in young girls. This study aims to estimate the prevalence, severity, determinants of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and its impact among the female medical students in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.
Methods
This study was performed at the College of Medicine, King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia, from June through December 2009. It included 250 medical students. They filled different questionnaires covering American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) criteria to diagnose PMS, demographic & reproductive factors, physical activity and mental condition. Regression analysis was conducted for all the predictors.
Results
PMS was diagnosed in 35.6% of cases, distributed as 45% mild, 32.6% moderate and 22.4% severe. There were significant trends for older age, rural residence, family income and family history of PMS. The dominant limited activity was concentration in class (48.3%). Limitations of activities were significantly more frequent among severe cases. The prevalence of anxiety and depression was statistically more evident in the PMS group. Regression analysis revealed that, PMS was significantly associated with older age groups, rural residence, lower age at menarche, regularity of menses and family history.
Conclusion
PMS is a common problem in young Saudi students in Al Ahsa. Severe PMS was associated with more impairment of daily activities and psychological distress symptoms. Older student age, rural residence, earlier age of menarche, regular cycles and positive family history are possible risk factors for PMS.
PMCID: PMC2984319  PMID: 21120003
premenstrual syndrome; Saudi Arabia
11.  Non-Specialist Psychosocial Interventions for Children and Adolescents with Intellectual Disability or Lower-Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(12):e1001572.
In a systematic review, Brian Reichow and colleagues assess the evidence that non-specialist care providers in community settings can provide effective interventions for children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The development of effective treatments for use by non-specialists is listed among the top research priorities for improving the lives of people with mental illness worldwide. The purpose of this review is to appraise which interventions for children with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders delivered by non-specialist care providers in community settings produce benefits when compared to either a no-treatment control group or treatment-as-usual comparator.
Methods and Findings
We systematically searched electronic databases through 24 June 2013 to locate prospective controlled studies of psychosocial interventions delivered by non-specialist providers to children with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders. We screened 234 full papers, of which 34 articles describing 29 studies involving 1,305 participants were included. A majority of the studies included children exclusively with a diagnosis of lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders (15 of 29, 52%). Fifteen of twenty-nine studies (52%) were randomized controlled trials and just under half of all effect sizes (29 of 59, 49%) were greater than 0.50, of which 18 (62%) were statistically significant. For behavior analytic interventions, the best outcomes were shown for development and daily skills; cognitive rehabilitation, training, and support interventions were found to be most effective for improving developmental outcomes, and parent training interventions to be most effective for improving developmental, behavioral, and family outcomes. We also conducted additional subgroup analyses using harvest plots. Limitations include the studies' potential for performance bias and that few were conducted in lower- and middle-income countries.
Conclusions
The findings of this review support the delivery of psychosocial interventions by non-specialist providers to children who have intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Given the scarcity of specialists in many low-resource settings, including many lower- and middle-income countries, these findings may provide guidance for scale-up efforts for improving outcomes for children with developmental disorders or lower-functioning autism spectrum disorders.
Protocol Registration
PROSPERO CRD42012002641
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Newborn babies are helpless, but over the first few years of life, they acquire motor (movement) skills, language (communication) skills, cognitive (thinking) skills, and social (interpersonal interaction) skills. Individual aspects of these skills are usually acquired at specific ages, but children with a development disorder such as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or intellectual disability (mental retardation) fail to reach these “milestones” because of impaired or delayed brain maturation. Autism, Asperger syndrome, and other ASDs (also called pervasive developmental disorders) affect about 1% of the UK and US populations and are characterized by abnormalities in interactions and communication with other people (reciprocal socio-communicative interactions; for example, some children with autism reject physical affection and fail to develop useful speech) and a restricted, stereotyped, repetitive repertoire of interests (for example, obsessive accumulation of facts about unusual topics). About half of individuals with an ASD also have an intellectual disability—a reduced overall level of intelligence characterized by impairment of the skills that are normally acquired during early life. Such individuals have what is called lower-functioning ASD.
Why Was This Study Done?
Most of the children affected by developmental disorders live in low- and middle-income countries where there are few services available to help them achieve their full potential and where little research has been done to identify the most effective treatments. The development of effective treatments for use by non-specialists (for example, teachers and parents) is necessary to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses worldwide, but particularly in resource-limited settings where psychiatrists, psychologists, and other specialists are scarce. In this systematic review, the researchers investigated which psychosocial interventions for children and adolescents with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning ASDs delivered by non-specialist providers in community settings produce improvements in development, daily skills, school performance, behavior, or family outcomes when compared to usual care (the control condition). A systematic review identifies all the research on a given topic using predefined criteria; psychosocial interventions are defined as therapy, education, training, or support aimed at improving behavior, overall development, or specific life skills without the use of drugs.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 29 controlled studies (investigations with an intervention group and a control group) that examined the effects of various psychosocial interventions delivered by non-specialist providers to children (under 18 years old) who had a lower-functioning ASD or intellectual disability. The researchers retrieved information on the participants, design and methods, findings, and intervention characteristics for each study, and calculated effect sizes—a measure of the effectiveness of a test intervention relative to a control intervention—for several outcomes for each intervention. Across the studies, three-quarters of the effect size estimates were positive, and nearly half were greater than 0.50; effect sizes of less than 0.2, 0.2–0.5, and greater than 0.5 indicate that an intervention has no, a small, or a medium-to-large effect, respectively. For behavior analytic interventions (which aim to improve socially significant behavior by systematically analyzing behavior), the largest effect sizes were seen for development and daily skills. Cognitive rehabilitation, training, and support (interventions that facilitates the relearning of lost or altered cognitive skills) produced good improvements in developmental outcomes such as standardized IQ tests in children aged 6–11 years old. Finally, parental training interventions (which teach parents how to provide therapy services for their child) had strong effects on developmental, behavioral, and family outcomes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Because few of the studies included in this systematic review were undertaken in low- and middle-income countries, the review's findings may not be generalizable to children living in resource-limited settings. Moreover, other characteristics of the included studies may limit the accuracy of these findings. Nevertheless, these findings support the delivery of psychosocial interventions by non-specialist providers to children who have intellectual disabilities or a lower-functioning ASD, and indicate which interventions are likely to produce the largest improvements in developmental, behavioral, and family outcomes. Further studies are needed, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, to confirm these findings, but given that specialists are scarce in many resource-limited settings, these findings may help to inform the implementation of programs to improve outcomes for children with intellectual disabilities or lower-functioning ASDs in low- and middle-income countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001572.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Bello-Mojeed and Bakare
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information (in English and Spanish) on developmental disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability
The US National Institute of Mental Health also provides detailed information about autism spectrum disorders, including the publication “A Parent's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorder”
Autism Speaks, a US non-profit organization, provides information about all aspects of autism spectrum disorders and includes information on the Autism Speaks Global Autism Public Health Initiative
The National Autistic Society, a UK charity, provides information about all aspects of autism spectrum disorders and includes personal stories about living with these conditions
The UK National Health Service Choices website has an interactive guide to child development and information about autism and Asperger syndrome, including personal stories, and about learning disabilities
The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence provides clinical guidelines for the management and support of children with autism spectrum disorders
The World Health Organization provides information on its Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP), which includes recommendations on the management of developmental disorders by non-specialist providers; the mhGAP Evidence Resource Center provides evidence reviews for parent skills training for management of children with intellectual disabilities and pervasive developmental disorders and interventions for management of children with intellectual disabilities
PROSPERO, an international prospective register of systematic reviews, provides more information about this systematic review
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001572
PMCID: PMC3866092  PMID: 24358029
12.  PixEye Virtual Reality Training has the Potential of Enhancing Proficiency of Laser Trabeculoplasty Performed by Medical Students: A Pilot Study 
Objective:
To compare the surgical proficiency of medical students who underwent traditional training or virtual reality training for argon laser trabeculoplasty with the PixEye simulator.
Materials and Methods:
The cohort comprised of 47 fifth year male medical students from the College of Medicine, King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia. The cohort was divided into two groups: students (n = 24), who received virtual reality training (VR Group) and students (n = 23), who underwent traditional training (Control Group). After training, the students performed the trabeculoplasty procedure. All trainings were included concurrent power point presentations describing the details of the procedure. Evaluation of surgical performance was based on the following variables: missing the exact location with the laser, overtreatment, undertreatment and inadvertent laser shots to iris and cornea.
Results:
The target was missed by 8% of the VR Group compared to 55% in the Control Group. Overtreatment and undertreatment was observed in 7% of the VR Group compared to 46% of the Control Group. Inadvertent laser application to the cornea or iris was performed by 4.5% of the VR Group compared to 34% of the Control Group.
Conclusion:
Virtual reality training on PixEye simulator may enhance the proficiency of medical students and limit possible surgical errors during laser trabeculoplasty. The authors have no financial interest in the material mentioned in this study.
doi:10.4103/0974-9233.92127
PMCID: PMC3277008  PMID: 22346126
Laser Trabeculoplasty; Medical Students; Pixeye Simulator; Virtual Reality Surgical Training
13.  The validity of Iran’s national university entrance examination (Konkoor) for predicting medical students’ academic performance 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:60.
Background
In Iran, admission to medical school is based solely on the results of the highly competitive, nationwide Konkoor examination. This paper examines the predictive validity of Konkoor scores, alone and in combination with high school grade point averages (hsGPAs), for the academic performance of public medical school students in Iran.
Methods
This study followed the cohort of 2003 matriculants at public medical schools in Iran from entrance through internship. The predictor variables were Konkoor total and subsection scores and hsGPAs. The outcome variables were (1) Comprehensive Basic Sciences Exam (CBSE) scores; (2) Comprehensive Pre-Internship Exam (CPIE) scores; and (3) medical school grade point averages (msGPAs) for the courses taken before internship. Pearson correlation and regression analyses were used to assess the relationships between the selection criteria and academic performance.
Results
There were 2126 matriculants (1374 women and 752 men) in 2003. Among the outcome variables, the CBSE had the strongest association with the Konkoor total score (r = 0.473), followed by msGPA (r = 0.339) and the CPIE (r = 0.326). While adding hsGPAs to the Konkoor total score almost doubled the power to predict msGPAs (R2 = 0.225), it did not have a substantial effect on CBSE or CPIE prediction.
Conclusions
The Konkoor alone, and even in combination with hsGPA, is a relatively poor predictor of medical students’ academic performance, and its predictive validity declines over the academic years of medical school. Care should be taken to develop comprehensive admissions criteria, covering both cognitive and non-cognitive factors, to identify the best applicants to become "good doctors" in the future. The findings of this study can be helpful for policy makers in the medical education field.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-60
PMCID: PMC3461424  PMID: 22840211
14.  Admissions processes for five year medical courses at English schools: review 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2006;332(7548):1005-1009.
Objective To describe the current methods used by English medical schools to identify prospective medical students for admission to the five year degree course.
Design Review study including documentary analysis and interviews with admissions tutors.
Setting All schools (n = 22) participating in the national expansion of medical schools programme in England.
Results Though there is some commonality across schools with regard to the criteria used to select future students (academic ability coupled with a “well rounded” personality demonstrated by motivation for medicine, extracurricular interests, and experience of team working and leadership skills) the processes used vary substantially. Some schools do not interview; some shortlist for interview only on predicted academic performance while those that shortlist on a wider range of non-academic criteria use various techniques and tools to do so. Some schools use information presented in the candidate's personal statement and referee's report while others ignore this because of concerns over bias. A few schools seek additional information from supplementary questionnaires filled in by the candidates. Once students are shortlisted, interviews vary in terms of length, panel composition, structure, content, and scoring methods.
Conclusion The stated criteria for admission to medical school show commonality. Universities differ greatly, however, in how they apply these criteria and in the methods used to select students. Different approaches to admissions should be developed and tested.
doi:10.1136/bmj.38768.590174.55
PMCID: PMC1450044  PMID: 16543300
15.  Assessing critical thinking in medical sciences students in two sequential semesters: Does it improve? 
Objectives:
Critical thinking is an important outcome criterion of higher education in any discipline. Medical and paramedical students always encounter with many new problems in clinical settings and medicinal laboratory, and critical thinking is an essential skill in obtaining a better approach for problem solving. We performed a pre-and post-test to evaluate the change of critical thinking skills in medical sciences students who enrolled in Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran during the academic years 2008-2010.
Methods:
In a longitudinal design study, the critical thinking skills were compared in medical sciences students in two sequential semesters using the California Critical Thinking Skills Test. The test is divided into two parts (parts 1 and 2), including 17 items in each part. Based on proportional stratified sampling, a groups of students (group 1, n=159) were selected from the university population, who enrolled in medicine, pharmacy, nursing, and rehabilitation colleges. The students in group 1 were asked to complete the part 1 of the test (phase I). After one semester, another group (group 2, n=138) from the same population was randomly selected, and they were asked to complete the part two (phase II). The students’ demographic data also were recorded. The California critical thinking skills test was translated and it validity and reliability were approved before.
Results:
No significant difference was observed between the two groups in the demographic data. The students critical thinking scores in phase II significantly reduced in comparison with phase 1 (p<0.05). The phase II scores in subdivisions of analysis, inference, inductive reasoning, and deductive reasoning also failed to demonstrate improvement.
Conclusion:
It seems curriculum reform is necessary to improve the students’ critical thinking.
doi:10.4103/2277-9531.106644
PMCID: PMC3778642  PMID: 24083255
Critical thinking; curriculum; higher education; medical sciences
16.  VIEWS OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS ON OBJECTIVE STRUCTURED CLINICAL EXAMINATION IN NEUROLOGY: A PRELIMINARY REPORT 
Objective:
Obtain the undergraduate medical students’ evaluation of an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) formed by two stations in neurology.
Methods:
The fifth-year medical students taking the neurology course at King Faisal University during the first rotation of academic year 1420-1421H (2000-2001G) made the evaluation. The time for each station was seven minutes. After finishing the examination, each student completed a six-item questionnaire on coverage, question clarity, time, patients, educational usefulness and organization of the examination with yes, no or don’t know responses.
Results:
A total of 48 students (30 males and 18 females) took the examination. The average time to complete the examination for a group of 16 students was 2 hours. The responses were positive for clarity of questions and organization of the examination 41(85%), and allotted time 36(75%). Thirty-two students (67%) found the structured examination a useful educational experience. About half the students expressed their concern about the coverage of taught material and the number of patients seen in the examination as representative of those seen during the course, and 11 students (23%) requested more time.
Conclusions:
The students’ response to the use of the structured clinical examination as an objective tool for evaluation of clinical skills in neurology was favorable and comparable to reports from other parts of the world. Improvement is required in the number of patients, coverage and allotted time to optimize outcome by improving content validity and reducing stress on participating patients.
PMCID: PMC3439748  PMID: 23008655
Neurology; undergraduate; medical education; OSCE; Saudi Arabia
17.  ARE WE READY FOR ARABIZATION IN MEDICAL EDUCATION? 
Objective:
To obtain the views of faculty members of the College of Medicine, King Faisal University on Arabization of medical education.
Methods:
A cross-sectional study was conducted in the College of Medicine, King Faisal University, Dammam, between January and June 2001 using a standardized 41-item questionnaire to obtain the views of faculty members in both basic science and clinical departments on issues relating mainly to scientific research. The responses were recorded on a 5-point scale: strongly agree, agree, undecided, disagree and strongly disagree. A couple of questions were used to probe the issue of publications in Arabic and translations into Arabic.
Results:
The response rate of faculty was 67% (74 of a total of 110 faculty members). The participating faculty members included 22 professors, 27 associate professors, 23 assistant professors and 2 lecturers belonging to 24 departments (6 basic sciences, 18 clinical). Thirty- four members (45.9%) were in favor of Arabization and 40 (54%) were against.
Conclusions:
Faculty members form the backbone for the implementation of Arabization in medical education. The opinions obtained in this preliminary survey of the faculty of the College of Medicine at King Faisal University indicate that we are still far from achieving this goal in our medical education.
PMCID: PMC3430169  PMID: 23008682
Undergraduate; medical education; Arabization; Saudi Arabia
18.  Generalizability of a Composite Student Selection Procedure at a University-Based Chiropractic Program 
Purpose:
Non-cognitive admission criteria are typically used in chiropractic student selection to supplement grades. The reliability of non-cognitive student admission criteria in chiropractic education has not previously been examined. In addition, very few studies have examined the overall test generalizability of composites of non-cognitive admission variables in admission to health science programs. The aim of this study was to estimate the generalizability of a composite selection to a chiropractic program, consisting of: application form information, a written motivational essay, a common knowledge test, and an admission interview.
Methods:
Data from 105 Chiropractic applicants from the 2007 admission at the University of Southern Denmark were available for analysis. Each admission parameter was double scored using two random, blinded, and independent raters. Variance components for applicant, rater and residual effects were estimated for a mixed model with the restricted maximum likelihood method. The reliability of obtained applicant ranks (generalizability coefficients) was calculated for the individual admission criteria and for the composite admission procedure.
Results:
Very good generalizability was found for the common knowledge test (G=1.00) and the admission interview (G=0.88). Good generalizability was found for application form information (G=0.75) and moderate generalizability (G=0.50) for the written motivation essay. The generalizability of the final composite admission procedure, which was a weighted composite of all 4 admission variables was good (Gc = 0.80).
Conclusion:
Good generalizability for a composite admission to a chiropractic program was found. Optimal weighting and adequate sampling are important for obtaining optimal generalizability. Limitations and suggestions for future research are discussed.
PMCID: PMC2670237  PMID: 19390678
Education; Educational Measurement; College Admission Test; School Admission Criteria
19.  Educational Technologies in Problem-Based Learning in Health Sciences Education: A Systematic Review 
Background
As a modern pedagogical philosophy, problem-based learning (PBL) is increasingly being recognized as a major research area in student learning and pedagogical innovation in health sciences education. A new area of research interest has been the role of emerging educational technologies in PBL. Although this field is growing, no systematic reviews of studies of the usage and effects of educational technologies in PBL in health sciences education have been conducted to date.
Objective
The aim of this paper is to review new and emerging educational technologies in problem-based curricula, with a specific focus on 3 cognate clinical disciplines: medicine, dentistry, and speech and hearing sciences. Analysis of the studies reviewed focused on the effects of educational technologies in PBL contexts while addressing the particular issue of scaffolding of student learning.
Methods
A comprehensive computerized database search of full-text articles published in English from 1996 to 2014 was carried out using 3 databases: ProQuest, Scopus, and EBSCOhost. Eligibility criteria for selection of studies for review were also determined in light of the population, intervention, comparison, and outcomes (PICO) guidelines. The population was limited to postsecondary education, specifically in dentistry, medicine, and speech and hearing sciences, in which PBL was the key educational pedagogy and curriculum design. Three types of educational technologies were identified as interventions used to support student inquiry: learning software and digital learning objects; interactive whiteboards (IWBs) and plasma screens; and learning management systems (LMSs).
Results
Of 470 studies, 28 were selected for analysis. Most studies examined the effects of learning software and digital learning objects (n=20) with integration of IWB (n=5) and LMS (n=3) for PBL receiving relatively less attention. The educational technologies examined in these studies were seen as potentially fit for problem-based health sciences education. Positive outcomes for student learning included providing rich, authentic problems and/or case contexts for learning; supporting student development of medical expertise through the accessing and structuring of expert knowledge and skills; making disciplinary thinking and strategies explicit; providing a platform to elicit articulation, collaboration, and reflection; and reducing perceived cognitive load. Limitations included cumbersome scenarios, infrastructure requirements, and the need for staff and student support in light of the technological demands of new affordances.
Conclusions
This literature review demonstrates the generally positive effect of educational technologies in PBL. Further research into the various applications of educational technology in PBL curricula is needed to fully realize its potential to enhance problem-based approaches in health sciences education.
doi:10.2196/jmir.3240
PMCID: PMC4275485  PMID: 25498126
systematic review; educational technologies; problem-based learning; medical education; health sciences; software; digital learning object; interactive whiteboard; learning management system
20.  PERCEPTION OF FEMALE STUDENTS OF KING SAUD UNIVERSITY TOWARDS PREMARITAL SCREENING 
Objectives:
The aim of this study was to investigate the perception of King Saud University female students towards the implementation of premarital screening (PMS) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).
Methods:
Two consecutive surveys on knowledge, attitudes and practice (KAP) were conducted two and nine months after the compulsory implementation of PMS in KSA in 1/1/1425H. The female students of King Saud University were given health education lectures before the survey. The first survey was done with a designed close-ended questionnaire distributed at pre and post stages of the health education lecture. However, the second one explored the participants’ perception of the same items in open-ended questions summarized as a “consensus statement”. In fulfillment of their demands, the signed statement was mailed to the legislative authorities.
Results and discussion:
A total of 140 university female students attended the first lecture. The response rate for both pre and post lecture surveys were 132 (94.3%) and 128 (91.4%) respectively. A total of 112 out of 132 (84.8%) students in the pre test and 111 out of 128 (86.7%) in the post-test were single.
Of the married students 7/20 (35.0%) and 7/17 (41.2%) in pre and post tests had previously had PMS screening. The attitude of the students towards PMS was generally positive. One hundred and eight (81.8%) in the pre test and 110 (85.9%) in the post test saw the importance of PMS in controlling the commonest hereditary diseases. However, a smaller percentage of students (69.7% and 75.0%) in pre and post lecture respectively were in favor of the compulsory application of PMS in KSA. In spite of the positive attitude of all the students in the pre and post tests, fears were expressed towards the confidentiality of PMS test results and it was felt that social and psychological problems would ensue from abnormal results. This, however, does not represent the feeling of the entire population in KSA since the participants of the study formed a select group.
The second awareness lecture was attended by 319 students from the College of Education. They were subsequently requested to state their perceptions of PMS application with regard to its content, nature and method of application in KSA in their own words. The collected forms were summarized into a “consensus statement” and signed by all 319 students. They felt that the scope of PMS should be extended to investigate and screen for other diseases especially sexually transmitted diseases that would adversely affect the health of members of the family and the community as a whole. Their worry about the lack of screening for other diseases may be because a majority of the study group were single and would, therefore, refuse to get married on account of the risks to their future offspring. In addition, it may reflect their knowledge of the effects of globalization on the transmission of diseases.
Conclusions:
Health education is an important means of improving the public's perception of newly-introduced health interventions. University students have a good perception of the compulsory implementation of PMS in KSA. Pre-marital screening could be extended to include a broader spectrum of health/genetic disorders and will be useful for early identification and possible intervention as well as the prevention of complications.
PMCID: PMC3410069  PMID: 23012110
Premarital Screening; Health Education; Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
21.  KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDE AND SMOKING PATTERNS AMONG NURSING AND LABORATORY TECHNOLOGY STUDENTS, DAMMAM, SAUDI ARABIA 
Objective:
To study the reported practices of knowledge about and attitude towards smoking among nursing and medical laboratory technology (MLT) students, College of Medicine, King Faisal University at Dammam and Al-Khobar.
Setting:
College of Medicine, Dammam and King Fahd Hospital of the University, Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia
Methods:
A cross-sectional approach involving a sample of 266 students and interns (152 nursing and 114 MLT), which included all enrolled students in the academic year (1998/1999). A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data covering knowledge, practice and attitude to smoking. SPSS was used for statistical analysis.
Results:
The overall smoking prevalence was low (5.6%), slightly higher among nursing (6.6%) versus MLT (4.4%) students. Knowledge of and attitude towards smoking was generally satisfactory in both groups, although deficient in some key areas, such as the addictive nature of smoking, some of its consequences on health, and difficulty of quitting.
Conclusion and Recommendations:
The prevalence of smoking among nursing and MLT students is generally low but their knowledge and attitude need improvement. Health education on facts, dangers and consequences of smoking should start as early as the primary school, and should continue throughout the education of future health professionals (role models for the community).
PMCID: PMC3437104  PMID: 23008604
Smoking; tobacco consumption; university students; nursing; laboratory technology; knowledge/attitudes/practice (KAP); Saudi Arabia
22.  The status of Vitamin D in medical students in the preclerkship years of a Saudi medical school 
Background:
The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency has recently been recognized in different parts of the world, even affecting healthy populations. The deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. Few studies have been done to evaluate the status of vitamin D in the medical community. The objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of low levels of vitamin D in healthy Saudi medical students.
Materials and Methods:
A cross-sectional study was carried out in November 2009 on male and female students in the preclerkship years of medical school at the King Faisal University, Dammam. Data on age, consumption of dairy products and seafood, and exposure to sunlight were collected. The body mass index was calculated. Approximately, 15 ml of blood was extracted for the measurement of serum calcium, serum albumin, serum phosphorus, alkaline phosphatase, fasting parathyroid hormone, and vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D < 50 nmol/l. Comparison between groups was done for statistical significance using an unpaired t-test. Significance was set at P < 0.05 using 95% CI for all comparisons.
Results:
The data from 95 male and 103 female students were analyzed. The mean age for all students was 19.54 years. In 100% of the students, the vitamin D level was low. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in all students was 96.0% (92.64% in males and 99.03% in females), while the remaining 4% had vitamin D insufficiency. The mean 25-hydroxy vitamin D level was 26.83 ± 12.60 nmol/l in males and 16.03 ± 8.28 nmol/l in females (P-value = 0.0001). Males had a statistically significant higher body mass index as well as consumption of dairy products, while the consumption of seafood was significantly higher in females. There was no difference between the two groups in terms of exposure to the sun.
Conclusion:
Vitamin D deficiency was highly prevalent among medical students included in this study. An urgent action has to be taken in order to prevent adverse consequences of low vitamin D in the young, otherwise healthy populations.
doi:10.4103/2230-8229.98293
PMCID: PMC3410172  PMID: 22870413
Insufficiency; medical students; Saudi; vitamin D deficiency
23.  Adjunctive Atypical Antipsychotic Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Depression, Quality of Life, and Safety Outcomes 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(3):e1001403.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis, Glen Spielmans and colleagues find that adjunctive atypical antipsychotic medications are associated with small-to-moderate improvements in depressive symptoms in patients with depression, but there is little evidence for improvement on measures of quality of life, and these medications are linked to adverse events such as weight gain.
Background
Atypical antipsychotic medications are widely prescribed for the adjunctive treatment of depression, yet their total risk–benefit profile is not well understood. We thus conducted a systematic review of the efficacy and safety profiles of atypical antipsychotic medications used for the adjunctive treatment of depression.
Methods and Findings
We included randomized trials comparing adjunctive antipsychotic medication to placebo for treatment-resistant depression in adults. Our literature search (conducted in December 2011 and updated on December 14, 2012) identified 14 short-term trials of aripiprazole, olanzapine/fluoxetine combination (OFC), quetiapine, and risperidone. When possible, we supplemented published literature with data from manufacturers' clinical trial registries and US Food and Drug Administration New Drug Applications. Study duration ranged from 4 to 12 wk. All four drugs had statistically significant effects on remission, as follows: aripiprazole (odds ratio [OR], 2.01; 95% CI, 1.48–2.73), OFC (OR, 1.42; 95% CI, 1.01–2.0), quetiapine (OR, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.33–2.42), and risperidone (OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.31–4.30).
The number needed to treat (NNT) was 19 for OFC and nine for each other drug. All drugs with the exception of OFC also had statistically significant effects on response rates, as follows: aripiprazole (OR, 2.07; 95% CI, 1.58–2.72; NNT, 7), OFC (OR, 1.30, 95% CI, 0.87–1.93), quetiapine (OR, 1.53, 95% CI, 1.17–2.0; NNT, 10), and risperidone (OR, 1.83, 95% CI, 1.16–2.88; NNT, 8). All four drugs showed statistically significant effects on clinician-rated depression severity measures (Hedges' g ranged from 0.26 to 0.48; mean difference of 2.69 points on the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale across drugs). On measures of functioning and quality of life, these medications produced either no benefit or a very small benefit, except for risperidone, which had a small-to-moderate effect on quality of life (g = 0.49).
Treatment was linked to several adverse events, including akathisia (aripiprazole), sedation (quetiapine, OFC, and aripiprazole), abnormal metabolic laboratory results (quetiapine and OFC), and weight gain (all four drugs, especially OFC). Shortcomings in study design and data reporting, as well as use of post hoc analyses, may have inflated the apparent benefits of treatment and reduced the apparent incidence of adverse events.
Conclusions
Atypical antipsychotic medications for the adjunctive treatment of depression are efficacious in reducing observer-rated depressive symptoms, but clinicians should interpret these findings cautiously in light of (1) the small-to-moderate-sized benefits, (2) the lack of benefit with regards to quality of life or functional impairment, and (3) the abundant evidence of potential treatment-related harm.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Everyone feels miserable occasionally. But for people who are clinically depressed, feelings of sadness and hopelessness and physical symptoms such as sleeping badly can last for months or years and can make them feel life is no longer worth living. Depression affects one in six people at some time during their life. Clinicians diagnose depression by asking their patients a series of questions about their feelings and symptoms. The answer to each question is given a score, and the total score from the questionnaire (“depression rating scale”) indicates the severity of depression. Treatment of depression often involves talking treatments (psychotherapy) such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people change negative ways of thinking and behaving and antidepressant drugs, most commonly “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” such as fluoxetine and paroxetine.
Why Was This Study Done?
Atypical antipsychotic medications (for example, aripiprazole, olanzapine/fluoxetine combination [OFC], quetiapine, and risperidone) are also widely prescribed for the treatment of depression. These drugs, which were developed to treat mental illnesses that are characterized by a loss of contact with reality, are used as adjunctive therapy for depression. That is, they are used in addition to antidepressant drugs. Clinicians wrote nearly four million prescriptions for adjunctive treatment of depression with atypical antipsychotic medications in 2007–2008 in the US alone. However, it is not known whether the benefits of using these drugs to treat depression outweigh their side effects, which include weight gain, sedation, and akathisia (a feeling of inner restlessness resulting in an urge to move, which may or may not be accompanied by increased movement). Here, the researchers undertake a systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety profiles of atypical antipsychotic medications used for the adjunctive treatment of depression. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical approach that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 14 short-term randomized controlled trials (duration 4–12 weeks) that compared adjunctive antipsychotic medications (aripiprazole, OFC, quetiapine, or risperidone) to placebo (dummy drug) in the treatment of depression that had not responded to antidepressant medication alone. All four drugs had statistically significant effects (effects unlikely to have happened by chance) on remission, which was most commonly defined as a score of less than eight at the study end point on the Montgomery–Asberg Depression Rating Scale. The researchers calculated the number of patients that would have to be treated for one patient to achieve remission (number needed to treat, or NNT). For OFC, the NNT was 19; for all the other drugs it was nine. All the drugs except OFC also significantly improved response rates (defined as a 50% improvement in depression rating score). However, the medications provided little or no benefit in terms of functioning and quality of life, except for risperidone, which had a small-to-moderate effect on quality of life. Finally, treatment with atypical antipsychotic medications was linked to several adverse effects, including weight gain (all four drugs) and akathisia (aripiprazole).
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results suggest that atypical antipsychotic medications for the adjunctive treatment of depression are efficacious in reducing observer-rated depressive symptoms. However, clinicians should interpret this conclusion cautiously for several reasons. First, adjunctive treatment with atypical antipsychotics provided only small-to-moderate benefits. Moreover, shortcomings in study design and data reporting methods may have inflated the apparent benefits of treatment and reduced the apparent incidence of adverse events. Second, this study provides little evidence that adjunctive treatment with atypical antipsychotics improves patients' quality of life or reduces their functional impairment. Finally, this study highlights abundant evidence of potential treatment-related harm. This evaluation of the safety and efficacy of adjunctive treatments for clinical depression provides critical insights that should help clinicians better understand the risk–benefit profiles of this approach to the treatment of major depressive disorder.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001403.
The US National Institute of Mental Health provides information on all aspects of depression (in English and Spanish); it has a webpage on mental health medications that includes information about atypical antipsychotics
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides detailed information about depression and includes personal stories about depression
More personal stories about depression are available from healthtalkonline.org
The UK charity Mind provides information on depression and on antipsychotic drugs; Mind also includes personal stories about depression on its website
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about depression (in English and Spanish)
Healthy Skepticism is an international nonprofit membership association that aims to improve health by reducing harm from misleading health information
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001403
PMCID: PMC3595214  PMID: 23554581
24.  Can Medical School Performance Predict Residency Performance? Resident Selection and Predictors of Successful Performance in Obstetrics and Gynecology 
Background
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.
Objective
To determine whether objective information in medical students' applications can help predict resident success.
Method
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.4300/JGME-D-09-00101.1
PMCID: PMC2951767  PMID: 21976076
25.  PROFESSIONAL ATTITUDES AND CAREER CHOICES OF FEMALE MEDICAL LABORATORY TECHNOLOGY STUDENTS AND GRADUATES: EXPERIENCE FROM EASTERN SAUDI ARABIA 
Objectives:
To conduct a survey of the medical laboratory technology senior students, interns and graduates in King Faisal University to gather descriptive data on what students and graduates felt about their chosen profession and their career goals for the next five years.
Material and Methods:
The study design was a survey. A questionnaire was specially designed for this purpose in order to gather information on the professional attitudes and career choices of the participants. The study period was one year, from January I, 2004 to December 31, 2004. A stratified random sample with proportional allocation was selected and a self-administered 17-item questionnaire was distributed. A 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1, strongly agree to 5 strongly disagree was created for the questions as well as two multiple-choice questions. 115 questionnaires were distributed to the available senior students, interns and graduates, 111 were returned completed. Statistical analysis was performed using the statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) PC + Software program.
Results:
Respondents indicated a high level of satisfaction with their chosen profession as indicated by the ratings on the different questions relating to the profession of MLT. Their career goals were mainly working in a hospital laboratory as medical technologists (57.7%), and continuing their postgraduate education (38.7%).
Conclusion and Recommendations:
MLT students and graduates expressed satisfaction with their chosen profession as evidenced by their responses assessing professional attitudes. Their career goals were mainly working at the bench level as Medical Laboratory Technologists in a hospital laboratory and postgraduate education.
PMCID: PMC3410111  PMID: 23012094
MLT; Career choices; Professional attitudes

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