Instruments to detect changes in attitudes towards people with disabilities are important for evaluation of training programs and for research. While we were interested in instruments specific for medical students, we aimed to systematically review the medical literature for validated survey instruments used to measure attitudes of healthcare students and professionals towards patients with physical disability.
We electronically searched Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Health and Psychosocial Instruments. We included papers reporting on the development and/or validation of survey instruments to measure attitudes of healthcare students and professionals towards patients with physical disability. We excluded papers in which the attitudes were not measured in a provider-patient context. Two reviewers carried out titles and abstracts screening, full texts screening, and data abstraction in a duplicate and independent manner using standardized and pilot tested forms.
We identified seven validated survey instruments used for healthcare students and professionals. These instruments were originally developed for the following target populations: general population (n = 4); dental students (n = 1); nursing students (n = 1); and rehabilitation professionals (n = 1). The types of validity reported for these instruments were content validity (n = 3), criterion-related validity (n = 1), construct validity (n = 2), face validity (n = 1), discriminant validity (n = 1), and responsiveness (n = 1). The most widely validated and used tool (ATDP) was developed in the late 1960s while the most recent instrument was developed in the early 1990s.
Of the seven identified validated instruments, less than half were specifically designed for healthcare students and professionals and none for medical students. There is a need to develop and validate a contemporary instrument specifically for medical students.