Silverwood, V, Chew-Graham, CA, Raybould, I, Thomas, B and Peters, S (2017) 'If it's a medical issue I would have covered it by now': learning about fibromyalgia through the hidden curriculum: a qualitative study. BMC Medical Education, 17 (1). 160 -?. ISSN 1472-6920

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BACKGROUND: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a long-term condition that affects between 1 and 5% of the general population and lies within the spectrum of medically unexplained symptoms (MUS). FMS can be difficult to diagnose and is usually done so as a diagnosis of exclusion. There is continuing debate regarding its legitimacy excluding other causes of symptoms. It is known that the diagnosis and management of MUS, including FMS, receives little attention in medical curricula and attitudes towards patients with FMS amongst medical professionals and trainees can be negative. The purpose of this study was to investigate how attitudes and perspectives of undergraduate medical students towards FMS are acquired during their training. METHODS: Qualitative interviews with 21 medical students were conducted to explore their views on FMS, encounters with patients with FMS, and where learning about FMS occurs. Participants were recruited from two English medical schools and the study was approved by two University Ethics committees. Interviews were digitally recorded with consent and data analysed thematically, using principles of constant comparison. RESULTS: The data were organised within three themes: i) FMS is a complex, poorly understood condition; ii) multiple sources for learning about FMS; and iii) consequences of negative attitudes for patients with FMS. CONCLUSION: Undergraduate medical students have limited understanding of, and are sceptical over the existence of FMS. These attitudes are influenced by the 'hidden curriculum' and witnessing attitudes and actions of their clinical teachers. Students interpret a lack of formal curriculum teaching around FMS to mean that it is not serious and hence a low priority. Encountering a patient, friend or family member with FMS can increase knowledge and lead to altered perceptions of the condition. Teaching and learning about FMS needs to be consistent to improve knowledge and attitudes of clinicians. Undergraduate students should be exposed to patients with FMS so that they better understand patients with FMS.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via BioMed Central at - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: fibromylagia syndrome, undergraduate medical students, attitudes and perspectives, medical curriculum
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R735 Medical education. Medical schools. Research
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Primary Care Health Sciences
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2017 11:42
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2023 15:28

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