Change in Medical Student Attitudes Toward Patients with Substance Use Disorders After Course Exposure

Makeida Koyi, Archana Nelliot, Dean MacKinnon, Darius A. Rastegar, Michael Fingerhood, Anika Alvanzo, Leonard Feldman, Karin J. Neufeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: Negative physician attitudes toward patients with substance use disorders (SUD) pose a significant barrier to treatment. This study tests the overall and intra-individual change in attitudes of second year medical students after exposure to a 15 hour SUD course. Methods: Two cohorts of second year medical students (2014 and 2015) responded to an anonymous 13-item previously published survey exploring personal views regarding patients with SUD using a four-point Likert scale. Students were surveyed one day before and up to one month after course completion. Survey items were grouped into the following categories: treatment optimism/confidence in intervention, moralism, and stereotyping. The Wilcoxon nonparametric signed-rank test (α=0.05) was used to compare the pre- and post- survey responses. Results: In 2014 and 2015 respectively, 118 and 120 students participated in the SUD course with pre- and post-response rates of 89.0% and 75.4% in 2014 and 95.8% and 97.5% in 2015. Of the 13 survey questions, paired responses to eight questions showed a statistically significant positive change in attitudes with a medium (d = 0.5) to large effect size (d = 0.8). Items focused on treatment optimism and confidence in treatment intervention reflected a positive attitude change, as did items associated with stereotyping and moralism. Conclusions: These results support the hypothesis that exposure to a course on SUD was associated with positive change in medical students’ attitudes toward patients with SUD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-287
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018


  • Attitude of health personnel
  • Medical education
  • Substance-related disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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