Medical students' self-perceived knowledge and clinical comfort with genetics in Pakistan

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Journal of genetic counseling


Pakistan has a high rate of genetic disorders and neonatal mortality concurrent with noted lack of genetic counselors and geneticists. To meet the needs of the patient population, the responsibility of providing clinical genetic services falls on general and specialty physicians. However, their education regarding these essential services is not standardized in medical school curricula nor has it ever been evaluated. The purpose of this work is to describe the self-perceived knowledge, clinical comfort, and perspectives of Pakistani medical students toward their medical genetics' education. A web-based survey was distributed electronically to medical schools around the country. The survey comprised of four sections: (1) participant demographics, (2) self-perceived medical genetics knowledge, (3) level of comfort in applying genetic knowledge and skills, and (4) attitudes toward medical genetics education. Descriptive statistics and a one-way analysis of variance were used for data analysis. Medical students in years 3, 4, and 5 (n = 473) from 25 medical schools participated in this research representing medical education in four Pakistani provinces. Most medical students reported "minimal" to "basic" knowledge of genetic testing methodology (64.7%), cancer genetics (64.9%), prenatal genetic testing (63.02%), and treatment strategies for genetic disease (72.9%). A plurality of students (37%) reported they were uncomfortable with interpreting and communicating genetic test results to patients. Medical students also expressed dissatisfaction with their medical genetics (40%) and genetic counselors training (42%). The self-perceived knowledge and clinical comfort with genetics among Pakistani medical students was limited, especially regarding genetic testing. A significant portion (74.5%) expressed desire for additional genetics education during medical school to aid in their role as future physicians. It is important for physicians-in-training to have a solid understanding of genetic concepts, technologies, and genetic counseling to best support their patients. As endorsed by the participating medical students, this study supports inclusion of more robust genetics' education into Pakistan's medical school curricula.

Medical Subject Headings

Humans; Male; Adolescent; Young Adult; Adult; Middle Aged; Aged; Female; Liver Transplantation; End Stage Liver Disease; Blood Loss, Surgical; Retrospective Studies; Severity of Illness Index; Blood Transfusion; Hemoglobins

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ePub ahead of print

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