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Impact of family medicine clerkships in undergraduate medical education: a systematic review

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      Synthesise evidence about the impact of family medicine/general practice (FM) clerkships on undergraduate medical students, teaching general/family practitioners (FPs) and/or their patients.

      Data sources

      Medline, ERIC, PsycINFO, EMBASE and Web of Knowledge searched from 21 November to 17 December 2013. Primary, empirical, quantitative or qualitative studies, since 1990, with abstracts included. No country restrictions. Full text languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch or Italian.

      Review methods

      Independent selection and data extraction by two authors using predefined data extraction fields, including Kirkpatrick’s levels for educational intervention outcomes, study quality indicators and Best Evidence Medical Education (BEME) strength of findings’ grades. Descriptive narrative synthesis applied.


      Sixty-four included articles: impact on students (48), teaching FPs (12) and patients (8). Sample sizes: 16-1095 students, 3-146 FPs and 94-2550 patients. Twenty-six studies evaluated at Kirkpatrick level 1, 26 at level 2 and 6 at level 3. Only one study achieved BEME’s grade 5. The majority was assessed as grade 4 (27) and 3 (33). Students reported satisfaction with content and process of teaching as well as learning in FM clerkships. They enhanced previous learning, and provided unique learning on dealing with common acute and chronic conditions, health maintenance, disease prevention, communication and problem-solving skills. Students’ attitudes towards FM were improved, but new or enhanced interest in FM careers did not persist without change after graduation. Teaching FPs reported increased job satisfaction and stimulation for professional development, but also increased workload and less productivity, depending on the setting. Overall, student’s presence and participation did not have a negative impact on patients.


      Research quality on the impact of FM clerkships is still limited, yet across different settings and countries, positive impact is reported on students, FPs and patients. Future studies should involve different stakeholders, medical schools and countries, and use standardised and validated evaluation tools.

      Related collections

      Most cited references 93

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      Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement

      David Moher and colleagues introduce PRISMA, an update of the QUOROM guidelines for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses
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        Epidemiology of multimorbidity and implications for health care, research, and medical education: a cross-sectional study.

        Long-term disorders are the main challenge facing health-care systems worldwide, but health systems are largely configured for individual diseases rather than multimorbidity. We examined the distribution of multimorbidity, and of comorbidity of physical and mental health disorders, in relation to age and socioeconomic deprivation. In a cross-sectional study we extracted data on 40 morbidities from a database of 1,751,841 people registered with 314 medical practices in Scotland as of March, 2007. We analysed the data according to the number of morbidities, disorder type (physical or mental), sex, age, and socioeconomic status. We defined multimorbidity as the presence of two or more disorders. 42·2% (95% CI 42·1-42·3) of all patients had one or more morbidities, and 23·2% (23·08-23·21) were multimorbid. Although the prevalence of multimorbidity increased substantially with age and was present in most people aged 65 years and older, the absolute number of people with multimorbidity was higher in those younger than 65 years (210,500 vs 194,996). Onset of multimorbidity occurred 10-15 years earlier in people living in the most deprived areas compared with the most affluent, with socioeconomic deprivation particularly associated with multimorbidity that included mental health disorders (prevalence of both physical and mental health disorder 11·0%, 95% CI 10·9-11·2% in most deprived area vs 5·9%, 5·8%-6·0% in least deprived). The presence of a mental health disorder increased as the number of physical morbidities increased (adjusted odds ratio 6·74, 95% CI 6·59-6·90 for five or more disorders vs 1·95, 1·93-1·98 for one disorder), and was much greater in more deprived than in less deprived people (2·28, 2·21-2·32 vs 1·08, 1·05-1·11). Our findings challenge the single-disease framework by which most health care, medical research, and medical education is configured. A complementary strategy is needed, supporting generalist clinicians to provide personalised, comprehensive continuity of care, especially in socioeconomically deprived areas. Scottish Government Chief Scientist Office. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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          Health professionals for a new century: transforming education to strengthen health systems in an interdependent world.


            Author and article information

            [1 ]Faculty of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine,University of Medicine in Tirana , Tirana, Albania
            [2 ]Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of General Practice, University of Antwerp , Antwerp, Belgium
            Author notes
            [Correspondence to ] Eralda Turkeshi; eraldaturkeshi@
            BMJ Open
            BMJ Open
            BMJ Open
            BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
            4 August 2015
            : 5
            : 8
            26243553 4538263 bmjopen-2015-008265 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008265
            Published by the BMJ Publishing Group Limited. For permission to use (where not already granted under a licence) please go to

            This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:

            General practice / Family practice


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