Undergraduate medical education about addictive disease can take many forms, but it is unclear which educational methods are most effective at shaping medical students into physicians who are interested in and competent at addressing addiction. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of the Betty Ford Institute's Summer Institute for Medical Students (SIMS), a week-long program aimed at educating medical students about addiction through a combination of traditional didactic and novel experiential sessions.
A written survey assessing beliefs, attitudes, and practices related to addictive disease was administered to physicians who previously participated in SIMS (n = 140) and to physicians matched for year of graduation from medical school who did not participate in SIMS (n = 105).
Compared with their peers, and controlling for sex, age, year of graduation from medical school, specialty, personal experience with addiction, and training in talking to patients about substance use, physicians who participated in SIMS were more likely to believe that they could help addicted patients, find working with addicted patients satisfying, be confident in knowing available resources for addicted patients, believe that addiction is a disease, and be confident in speaking to patients about substance use. Physicians who participated in SIMS were not more likely to practice addiction medicine or to view talking to patients about substance use as clinically relevant.
Undergraduate medical educational interventions combining traditional and experiential programming may render participants better equipped than peers receiving only traditional education to address addiction as physicians.