Awareness and perception of the specialty of family medicine among medical students in a Nigerian medical school
Background: Family Medicine is the medical specialty that provides personalized, continuing, longitudinal and comprehensive health care for the individual, in a holistic manner within the context of his/her family and environment, regardless of age, sex, organ system or disease entity. Due to its comprehensive nature, skill and knowledge content, the World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged the critical importance and positive impact of family medicine in the healthcare delivery system of nations. Despite this acknowledgement, not much recognition seems to have been accorded the specialty in Nigeria. This is evidenced by the very few Nigerian Universities/Schools of Medicine that have either established an academic/undergraduate department of Family Medicine or that offer Family Medicine as a course or area of study in their undergraduate medical curriculum. This poor recognition, along with other challenges confronting the specialty, is capable of influencing the awareness, knowledge, and perception of Family Medicine by undergraduate medical students. This study evaluated the awareness, knowledge and perception of Family Medicine as a medical specialty among medical students in a Nigerian medical school.
Methods: This was a descriptive cross-sectional study of undergraduate medical students at the school of medicine, University of Benin. Data entry and analysis was done using the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (IBM SPSS version 16).
Results: 400 medical students were evaluated in this study. The respondents' age ranged from14-40years with a mean age of 22.01±3.38years. 20% of the students could give a standard definition of family medicine. More than three-quarters (82.8%) of the respondents agreed that family medicine is relevant to health care delivery, while 65.5% felt that family medicine can reduce overall cost of health care. Although 39.0% of the study participants were aware of an academic department/undergraduate program in family medicine in any Nigerian University, majority (81.5%) of the respondents supported the establishment of an academic department of family medicine.
Conclusion: This study concludes that though there is good awareness and perception of the medical specialty of Family Medicine among undergraduate medical students of the School of Medicine, University of Benin, there is need to improve their knowledge about the specialty through the introduction of Family Medicine in the undergraduate medical curriculum of the University, backed with the establishment of a department of Family medicine in the University's School of Medicine.