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Can Teaching Research Methodology Influence Students' Attitude Toward Science? Cohort Study and Nonrandomized Trial in a Single Medical School
  1. Ana Vujaklija, MD*,
  2. Darko Hren, PhD,
  3. Dario Sambunjak, MD,
  4. Ivana Vodopivec, MD, PhD§,
  5. Ana Ivaniš, MD,
  6. Ana Marušić, MD, PhD,
  7. Matko Marušić, MD, PhD
  1. From the *Zagreb University Hospital Center, Zagreb; †Faculty of Humanities,University of Split, Split; ‡School of Medicine, Zagreb University,Zagreb and Croatian Cochrane Branch, Centre for Global Health, University of Split School of Medicine, Split, Croatia; §Division of Psychiatry Research, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland; and ∥School of Medicine, University of Split, Split, Croatia.
  1. Received July 24, 2009, and in revised form November 16, 2009.
  2. Accepted for publication November 16, 2009.
  3. Reprints: Ana Marušić, MD, PhD, School of Medicine, University of Split, Soltanska 2, 21000 Split, Croatia. E-mail: ana.marusic{at}mefst.hr.
  4. This study was supported by research grant No. 216-1080314-0140 from the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports of the Republic of Croatia.
  5. A.M., M.M., and D.H. jointly worked on the idea and design of the study; A.V., I.V., A.I., D.S., and D.H. collected the data and worked on the analysis of data, and all authors participated in the interpretation of data; A.M., M.M., and D.H. wrote the first draft of the manuscript; and A.V., D.S., A.I., and I.V. critically revised the manuscript; all authors approved the final version of the manuscript.
  6. The authors were teachers at the Zagreb University School of Medicine at the time of the study.
  7. The study was approved by the ethics committee of the Zagreb University School of Medicine.

Abstract

Background Medical teaching aims to develop attitudes and behaviors underlying professional competence of future physicians. We investigated whether a mandatory course on scientific methodology in the second study year could affect students' attitudes toward science in medicine.

Method In a longitudinal study, students (n = 241) enrolling in 2001-2002 academic year at a single medical school were followed up until graduation in 2006-2007. Each year, they filled out a Likert-type questionnaire of 18 statements evaluating attitude toward science. Direct influence of the course on students' attitudes was tested in a nonrandomized controlled trial with the 2006-2007 second year student cohort.

Results Positive students' attitudes toward science increased during study years (mean [SD] score of the maximum score of 90): from 57.6 (6.0) in the first to 69.8 (10.4) in the sixth year. There was a significant trend of increase in attitudes with the years of study (cubic trend by polynomial contrasts analysis, P = 0.011). Attendance of a course on research methodology significantly increased positive attitudes (score, 67.0 [7.0] before and 70.8 [7.5] after course, P = 0.032 vs control group), regardless of grade point average. The intervention had an effect even when the influence of the initial attitude was accounted for (F1,140 = 9.25, P = 0.003; analysis of covariance). The attitude changes after the course was greatest in students with low initial attitude scores (Spearman r initial score, score difference, −0.44).

Conclusions Medical students have positive attitudes toward science and scientific method in medicine. Attendance of a course on research methodology had positive short-term effect on students' attitudes toward science. This positive effect should be maintained by vertical integration of the course in the medical curriculum.

Key Words
  • attitude
  • education
  • students
  • medical
  • science

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