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The effect of medical education on the attitudes of medical students towards disabled people


Dr S. C. Duckworth, Rehabilitation Unit, Level C, West Wing, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO9 4XY, UK.


Summary. The negative attitudes of society towards disability and the resulting prejudicial behaviour affects the lives of disabled people. One of the declared aims of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Southampton is to improve attitudes. Hence, an attempt has been made to assess differences in the attitudes held by first- and fourth-year medical students, senior house officers and members of the general public towards disabled people. The measurement instrument used was the ‘Attitudes Towards Disabled Persons (ATDP) Scale’. The total number of subjects in the survey was 428, of whom 263 (61%) responded. No significant differences were found between the attitudes of the four groups studied. However, a subpopulation of subjects who agreed with the statement that ‘Disabled people cause more problems to doctors than non-disabled people’ had attitudes which were significantly more negative.