Exploring barriers to teaching behavioural and social sciences in medical education

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Tomorrow's Doctors provides guidance about what is considered core knowledge for medical graduates. One core area of knowledge identified is the individual in society: graduates are required to understand the social and cultural environments in which medicine is practised in the UK. Yet, despite the presence of the behavioural and social sciences (B&SS) in medical curricula in the UK for the past 30 years, barriers to their implementation in medical education remain.


This study sought to discover medical educators' perceptions of the barriers to the implementation of B&SS.


Medical educationalists in all UK medical schools were asked to complete a survey identifying what they felt were the barriers they had experienced to the implementation of B&SS teaching in medical education.


A comparison of our findings with the literature revealed that these barriers have not changed since the implementation of B&SS in medical education. Moreover, the barriers remain similar across medical schools with differing ethos and strategies.


Various agendas within the hidden curricula create barriers to effective B&SS learning in medical education and thus need further exploration and attention.

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