Prevention Education and Evaluation in U.S. Medical Schools: A Status Report

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The Prevention Curriculum Assistance Program (PCAP) was initiated to help U.S. medical schools examine the extent to which they are evaluating the learning of medical students about disease prevention/health promotion. A survey was sent to all 144 allopathic and osteopathic medical schools, with an overall response rate of 68%. The results revealed more emphasis on teaching and evaluating the learning of medical students in the areas of clinical preventive services and quantitative methods, and less emphasis on the community dimensions of medical practice and health services organization and delivery.Written tests and unstructured observation are the most common methods of evaluation. Fewer than half of all respondents were satisfied with the quality of their assessment of student achievement in any of the four domains of prevention education. More than 30% expressed a desire to receive assistance with designing curricula and/or evaluation methods in each of the four content areas examined. Several indicated their willingness to assist colleagues who want to improve their prevention curricula and/or measurement strategies.This study identified a need for more attention and support for prevention education and evaluation programs. Curriculum leaders can help by designating prevention a priority area and appointing faculty to be responsible for monitoring the content and quality of prevention teaching throughout the curriculum. Resources such as the Internet can be utilized to establish a network whereby medical schools can collaborate to improve their educational programs and evaluation methods in prevention.

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