Abstract

Background: Although patient safety is becoming widely taught in medical schools, its effect has been less rigorously evaluated. We describe a multicentre study to evaluate student changes in patient safety attitudes using a standardized instrument, the Attitudes to Patient Safety Questionnaire3 (APSQ3).

Methods: A patient safety training package designed for medical students was delivered in the first year and second year in four Australian medical schools. It comprises eight face-to-face modules, each of two hours. Seminars start with an interactive introduction using questions, video and role play, followed by small group break-outs to discuss a relevant case study. Groups are led by medical school tutors with no prior training in patient safety. Students and tutors then reassemble to give feedback and reinforce key concepts. Knowledge and attitudes to patient safety were measured using the APSQ3, delivered prior to safety teaching, at the end of the first and second years and 12 months after teaching ceased.

Results: A significant improvement in attitude over time was demonstrated for four of nine key items measured by the APSQ3: value of patient safety teaching; danger of long working hours, value of team work and the contribution patients can make in reducing error. Informal feedback from students was very positive.

Conclusion: We showed persistent, positive learning from a patient safety education intervention 12 months after teaching finished. Building on the introduction of patient safety teaching into medical schools, pathways for motivated students such as appropriate electives, option terms and team-based research projects would be of value.

Keywords

educational innovation, multicentre evaluation, attitudinal scale, patient safety, medical students, cohort study

Link to Publisher Version (URL)

10.1186/s12909-018-1313-0

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