Final year medical students’ understanding of family medicine

Marija Petek Šter, Igor Švab, Branko Šter


Objective. The European Academy of Teachers in General Practice / Family Medicine (EURACT) has developed an educational agenda, the key document for teaching family medicine in Europe. The aim of our study was to find out how final year medical students at the beginning of their family medicine clerkship understand the discipline of family medicine. Methods. The attitudes toward family medicine were paraphrased and developed into a 164-item questionnaire, which was administered to 335 final-year medical students at the beginning of their clerkship. Using combinatorial optimization with genetic algorithms we selected 30 items which yielded the highest Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient. Finally, we performed a factor analysis to find which dimensions of family medicine were recognized by the students and compared them with the domains defined in the EURACT definition. Results. The 30-item questionnaire had a Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient of 0.919. The differences between male and female students were not very significant (p=0.061). With the factor analysis we recognized seven factors, belonging to three out of six domains of the EURACT educational agenda: primary care management, person centeredness and comprehensive approach. Conclusion. Final-year medical students at the beginning of their family medicine clerkship understand some of the dimensions of family medicine rather well, but they are not aware of some important competences of family doctors. There is a necessity to teach students about specific problem solving skills and the importance of balance between the health needs of an individual patient and the community.


Family medicine, Medical students; Understanding of family medicine; EURACT Educational agenda

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