Uncovering cynicism in medical training: a qualitative analysis of medical online discussion forums

Description
Title: Uncovering cynicism in medical training: a qualitative analysis of medical online discussion forums
Authors: Doja, Asif
Peng, Jenny
Clarkin, Chantalle
Date: 2018
Abstract: Objective The development of cynicism in medicine, defined as a decline in empathy and emotional neutralisation during medical training, is a significant concern for medical educators. We sought to use online medical student discussion groups to provide insight into how cynicism in medicine is perceived, the consequences of cynicism on medical trainee development and potential links between the hidden curriculum and cynicism. Setting Online analysis of discussion topics in Premed101 (Canadian) and Student Doctor Network (American) forums. Participants 511 posts from seven discussion topics were analysed using NVivo 11. Participants in the forums included medical students, residents and practising physicians. Methods Inductive content analysis was used to develop a data-driven coding scheme that evolved throughout the analysis. Measures were taken to ensure the trustworthiness of findings, including duplicate independent coding of a sub-sample of posts and the maintenance of an audit trail. Results Medical students, residents and practising physicians participating in the discussion forums engaged in discourse about cynicism and highlighted themes of the hidden curriculum resulting in cynicism. These included the progression of cynicism over the course of medical training as a coping mechanism; the development of challenging work environments due to factors such as limited support, hierarchical demands and long work hours; and the challenge of initiating change due to the tolerance of unprofessionalism and the highly stressful nature of medicine. Conclusion Our unique study of North American medical discussion posts demonstrates that cynicism develops progressively and is compounded by conflicts between the hidden and formal curriculum. Online discussion groups are a novel resource to provide insight into the culture of medical training.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/38312
DOI: 10.1136/ bmjopen-2018-022883
CollectionCHEO - Publications
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