Perception and Attitudes About Rational Prescription During Medical Training: Results of Focus Groups Including Medical Students and Residents

Isabel Boaventura, João Costa, Ricardo Miguel Fernandes, Joaquim Ferreira


Introduction: Clinical pharmacology educational strategies for medicine students seek to foster skills that range from technical knowledge to the development of behaviors that ensure rational prescribing decisions. The authors present the results of a study to evaluate the perceptions, attitudes and behaviors linked with rational prescribing throughout training.
Material and Methods: Four focus groups were held with first, third and fifth year medical students and residents from the first years of various specialties, with a total of 29 participants. A semi-structured questionnaire with open-ended questions was used to facilitate interaction between the participants, alongside case-studies to explore the behaviors associated with therapeutic decisions.
Results: The analysis of the references showcased an evolution of concepts throughout academic training. References regarding guidelines and effectiveness emerge during the third year; safety and treatment personalization emerge during the fifth year and specialist training. Efficacy studies, systematic reviews, regulatory documents and online platforms were considered the most relevant sources of information.
Discussion: The literature review showcases the need to implement strategies dedicated to the development of adequate skills for rational prescribing. The use of focus groups may be a useful methodology to engage students in self-evaluation of their skills and inform faculty of the perceptions and behaviors of students.
Conclusion: This analysis illustrates the awareness of students and young physicians to the need to adapt therapeutic approaches to the characteristics of the patient. These concepts should be reinforced so that young doctors feel more prepared for rational prescription in complex clinical situations.


Clinical Competence; Education, Medical; Pharmacology, Clinical; Portugal; Prescription Drugs

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