Efficacy of an educational intervention on students' attitudes regarding spirituality in healthcare: a cohort study in the USA.
OBJECTIVE: To determine if an educational intervention focused on the role of spirituality in healthcare positively affects medical students' attitudes and perceptions relating to this topic. DESIGN: A pre-post cohort study. SETTING: An undergraduate medical institution affiliated with an academic medical center in the USA. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 110 medical students currently on their clinical rotations received the educational intervention, of whom 71 (65%) completed both the presurvey and postsurvey. Demographic variables did not significantly differ from the national average of medical students, or from a comparison group. All students who attended the intervention were given the opportunity to participate in the survey. INTERVENTIONS: The educational intervention consisted of a 60-minute lecture focusing on religion/spirituality (R/S) in healthcare, followed by a 90-minute case discussion in a small group setting. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: Assessment consisted of 18-item preintervention and postintervention survey quantifying student's attitudes towards, comfort with, and perceptions of R/S in healthcare. RESULTS: Attitudes towards, comfort with, and perceptions of R/S in healthcare were generally positive preintervention. Following the intervention, students expressed an increased willingness to include R/S competency in their future practice (p=0.001), were more comfortable sharing their own R/S beliefs with a patient when appropriate (p=0.02), and were more willing to approach a patient with R/S concern (p=0.04). The other surveyed attitudes demonstrated positive, but non-significant improvement. CONCLUSION: An educational intervention focusing on approaching patients with R/S concerns has the ability to improve the attitudes and comfort of medical students. By incorporating a total of 150 minutes of education about R/S, medical schools can help develop this particular area of cultural competence, preparing a generation of physicians to professionally approach R/S concerns of patients. Future research should move beyond quantifying attitudes and strive to understand changes in knowledge and student behaviour.
Smothers, ZPW; Tu, JY; Grochowski, C; Koenig, HG
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