First-year medical students have been previously reported to have positive attitudes about disease prevention, in general, and about cardiovascular disease prevention, in particular. Whether medical school experiences exert a positive, negative, or neutral effect on prevention-oriented attitudes in medical students is not known. We assessed attitudes toward heart disease prevention in 770 entering medical students enrolled at six selected American medical schools, each having some curricular emphasis on preventive cardiology, and repeated the attitude survey near graduation in the 750 fourth-year students enrolled in the six schools. Response rates were similar at each of the schools for each administration and averaged 88% in entering students and 74% in the graduating students. We used two mean attitude scores, ranging from 1.0 to 5.0 on a Likert scale, 5.0 representing the most positive attitude. The score treating the importance of primary prevention increased from 4.08 ± 0.39 to 4.35 ± 0.41. The attitude score concerning the importance of research in preventive cardiology also increased from 3.65 ± 0.56 to 3.90 ± 0.64 (P <.0001 for both comparisons of first-year to fourth-year students). Analyses by school revealed similar increases, as did analyses for men, women, whites, and nonwhites. The results indicate that positive attitudes toward heart disease prevention can become even more positive during medical school. The perpetuation of positive attitudes should contribute to improved clinical prevention behaviors when these graduates embark on careers in medicine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health