Increasing disability awareness of future spinal cord injury physicians.

OBJECTIVE: This prospective study was designed to evaluate a disability awareness training program for medical students.

METHODS: First- and second-year medical school students participated in an interactive disability awareness program consisting of 6 sessions spaced across 1 year. The Modified Issues in Disability Scale (MIDS), administered at program commencement and completion, was used to measure attitudes toward people with a disability. The paired t test was used to compare pre- and posttest data on the MIDS. In addition, gain scores on content-based tests were used to measure learning for each session. Participants also completed evaluation forms for each session.

RESULTS: Two hundred and six students completed the MIDS forms at program commencement and completion. Analysis revealed a significant average increase (P = 0.033) in positive attitudes toward people with disabilities between the pre- and posttest data. Content learning also was evidenced by an average 34% gain from pretest to posttest. The participant evaluation summary for the sessions averaged 3.95 on a Likert-type scale of 5, which was characterized as “very good.” Subjective evaluations were extremely favorable, as evidenced by requests for more information and exposure.

CONCLUSION: This project illustrates the effectiveness of disability awareness training among medical school students during the early period of their training.