PURPOSE: To assess knowledge, attitudes, and formal instruction related to injury control among fourth-year medical students. Injury is the leading cause of death among Americans aged 1 to 44 years. METHOD: The authors conducted a cross-sectional survey of fourth-year students at six U.S. medical schools, four of which maintain federally funded injury prevention research centers. Main outcome measures included injury-related knowledge scores, three attitude measures, and self-reported exposures to injury prevention education. RESULTS: Six hundred and thirty-five fourth-year medical students (73% of those eligible) participated. The responding students were, on average, unable to correctly answer half of the questions testing injury-related knowledge. They rated medical problems more important and more preventable than injury problems, and they felt more comfortable asking their patients about risk factors for medical problems. These findings may be explained, in part, by the students' reported minimal exposure to injury control education in medical school. The students encountered the topic more frequently on rotations in pediatrics (84%), family medicine (73%), and preventive medicine (66%) than on rotations in emergency medicine (47%), internal medicine (41%), or obstetrics and gynecology (34%). Injury control was encountered least often on rotations in psychiatry (23%) and surgery (14%). CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that injury control is given limited coverage in the curricula of U.S. medical schools. As a result, students have little understanding of the principles and benefits of injury control.
(C) 1998 Association of American Medical Colleges