Interventions to Teach Medical Students About Disability: A Systematic Search and Review.

Peer-reviewed article
(2019 Jul) Am J Phys Med Rehabil, 98 577-599


Ioerger M, Flanders RM, French-Lawyer JR, Turk MA


Historically, medical students have received little training about working with patients with disability, but there is now a greater recognition of the need to educate medical students in this domain. The aims of this review were to define the body of literature and to determine effective strategies for teaching medical students about disability. A systematic search protocol executed across six databases identified journal articles reporting interventions implemented to teach disability to medical students. Seventy-seven articles spanning 1960-2018 met inclusion criteria. Most articles reported objectives related to increasing knowledge and skills or changing attitudes. However, only half included evaluations for all of their stated objectives in those domains. In addition, few articles used longitudinal evaluations, resulting in most articles basing conclusions on immediate posttest evaluations. Overall, the reported interventions exhibit a high risk of potential bias, with only 10% of the articles receiving a global quality rating of "good." Thus, although several articles have reported educational interventions to teach medical students about disability, the high risk of bias, incomplete reporting, and limitations of the evaluations prevent evidence-based determinations of effective strategies for teaching medical students about disability. The findings highlight ways to improve future studies in this domain.