Community-based education has been introduced in many medical schools around the globe, but evaluation of instructional quality has remained a critical issue. Community-based education is an approach that aims to prepare students for future professional work at the community level. Instructional quality should be measured based on a program's outcomes. However, the association between learning activities and students' attitudes is unknown. The purpose of this study was to clarify what learning activities affect students' attitudes toward community health care.
From 2003 to 2009, self-administered pre- and post-questionnaire surveys were given to 693 fifth-year medical students taking a 2-week clinical clerkship. Main items measured were student attitudes, which were: "I think practicing community health care is worthwhile" ("worthwhile") and "I am confident about practicing community health care" ("confidence") using a visual analogue scale (0-100). Other items were gender, training setting, and learning activities. We analyzed the difference in attitudes before and after the clerkships by paired t test and the factors associated with a positive change in attitude by logistic regression analysis.
Six hundred forty-five students (93.1%), 494 (76.6%) male and 151(23.4%) female, completed the pre- and post-questionnaires. The VAS scores of the students' attitudes for "worthwhile" and "confidence" after the clerkship were 80.2 ± 17.4 and 57.3 ± 20.1, respectively. Both of the scores increased after the clerkship. Using multivariate logistic regression analysis, "health education" was associated with a positive change for both attitudes of "worthwhile" (adjusted RR: 1.71, 95% CI: 1.10-2.66) and "confidence" (1.56, 1.08-2.25).
Community-based education motivates students to practice community health care. In addition, their motivation is increased by the health education activity. Participating in this activity probably produces a positive effect and improves the instructional quality of the program based on its outcomes.