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Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing


Publication details for Dr Andrew J. Russell

Russell, A.J., van Teijlingen, E., Lambert, H. & Stacy, R. (2004). Social and Behavioural Science Education in UK Medical Schools: Current Practice and Future Directions. Medical Education 38(4): 409-417.

Author(s) from Durham


The increasing importance accorded the social and behavioural sciences in medical education presents opportunities for developing new and innovative forms of teaching and learning in this field. Yet social and behavioural scientists often feel isolated and marginalized. This research was designed to build a network of such practitioners to share and compare current practice, and to develop better models and resources. Methods

Questionnaire survey and workshop discussions describe current practice among social and behavioural scientists in UK medical education, and identify current and future issues. Results

Most UK medical curricula feature a significant social and behavioural science component, often in multidisciplinary contexts. Questions of core content, and how this relates to desired learning outcomes, particularly in the attitudinal sphere, remain unresolved. Identity problems result from differing perspectives of medics and social and behavioural scientists, staffing constraints, assessment regimes, and relationships with external examiners. Discussion

This project identified barriers and opportunities for providing adequate training in the social and behavioural sciences in medical schools. Some of the barriers are common to higher education generally. Through our network, a database of core cases and assessments can be developed that would be available to all for teaching purposes. Conclusion

Social and behavioural scientists involved in medical education show commonality and difference in the extent and scope of their input. While they have made great progress, there remains much to achieve.