First-Year Medical Students' Willingness to Participate in Peer Physical Examination

Katharine J. Reid, Meshak Kgakololo, Ruth M. Sutherland, Susan L. Elliott, Agnes E. Dodds

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is little research on student attitudes toward participating in peer physical examination (PPE). Purpose: This study explored first-year medical students' attitudes toward PPE and their willingness to participate in PPE before they had experience with PPE as part of their course. Methods: First-year medical students (n = 119) rated their willingness to participate in PPE for 15 body regions, with male or female peers, and when examining or being examined by others. Attitudes toward participating in PPE were also assessed. Results: Low-sensitivity examinations (e.g., hands, head) in PPE were generally accepted by male and female students. Significant variation in willingness across different body regions was, however, evident for male and female students depending on the type of examination and their examination partner's gender. Students generally held positive attitudes toward participating in PPE as part of the course. Moreover, students with more positive attitudes provided higher ratings of willingness to participate in PPE for all examination types. Conclusions: Findings suggest high levels of willingness to participate in PPE for low-sensitivity examinations of the kind employed in university teaching contexts. Nonetheless, gender effects appear more complex than previously described, and for some regions of the body, there are subtle preferences for particular examination types, in particular performing examinations, rather than being examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-62
Number of pages8
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

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