Although studies have begun to shed light on medical students' attitudes towards peer physical examination (PPE), they have been conducted at single sites, and have generally not examined changes in medical students' attitudes over time. Employing both cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, the current study examines medical students' attitudes towards PPE at schools from different geographical and cultural regions and assess changes in their attitudes over their first year of medical study. Students at six schools (Peninsula, UK; Durham, UK; Auckland, New Zealand; Flinders, Australia; Sapporo, Japan and Li Ka Shing, Hong Kong) completed the Examining Fellow Students (EFS) questionnaire near the start of their academic year (T1), and students at four schools (Peninsula, Durham, Auckland and Flinders) completed the EFS for a second time, around the end of their academic year (T2). Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed a high level of acceptance for PPE of non-intimate body regions amongst medical students from all schools (greater than 83%, hips, at T1 and 94.5%, hips and upper body, at T2). At T1 and T2, students' willingness to engage in PPE was associated with their gender, ethnicity, religiosity and school. Typically, students least comfortable with PPE at T1 and T2 were female, non-white, religious and studying at Auckland. Although students' attitudes towards PPE were reasonably stable over their first year of study, and after exposure to PPE, we did find some statistically significant differences in attitudes between T1 and T2. Interestingly, attitude changes were consistently predicted by gender, even when controlling for school. While male students' attitudes towards PPE were relatively stable over time, females' attitudes were changeable. In this paper, we discuss our findings in light of existing research and theory, and discuss their implications for educational practice and further research.
- Attitude change
- Medical students
- Peer physical examination (PPE)