Impact of skin cancer education on medical students’ diagnostic skills
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Skin cancer is increasingly common, and the skills involved in its diagnosis should be promoted in UK medical schools. However, there has been no scientific evaluation of the teaching methods employed by dermatology departments. The aim of this study was to evaluate, using traditional audiovisual methods, the impact of an illustrated booklet on skin cancer, coupled with a lecture, on undergraduates’ diagnostic skills. The ability of 27 final-year medical students to recognize a variety of skin lesions, using projected images from clinical slides, was assessed. They were tested without warning on two occasions. Immediately after the first test, students were given an illustrated booklet on skin tumours and pigmented lesions which was supplemented with a lecture based on the booklet. Two weeks later, a second test was employed using a series of slides deemed to be of equal diagnostic difficulty. Our results showed a significant increase in the median number of correct diagnoses between the first and second tests (P < 0.001). However, there remained wide variation at the second test in the percentage of correct answers (30 to 80%) amongst students. Our study highlights the need to develop effective methods for improving the diagnostic skills of undergraduates in dermatology, and the importance of evaluating teaching methods. The methods of evaluation, such as ours, can be simple and inexpensive.
Cancer Screening Evaluation Unit (DoH)
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CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL DERMATOLOGY, 2003, 28 pp. 214 - 217