Educational Interventions for Medical Students to Improve Pharmacological Knowledge and Prescribing Skills: A Scoping Review

Brett Vaughan
Helen Qin
Louisa Ng
Weiwei Shi
Soort article
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Introduction: Medication-related errors place a heavy financial burden on healthcare systems worldwide, and mistakes are most likely to occur at the stage of prescribing. Junior doctors are more likely to make prescribing errors, and medical graduates also lack confidence and preparedness towards prescribing. Thus, this review aimed to evaluate the existing educational approaches to improve pharmacological knowledge and prescribing skills among medical students.

Methods: CENTRAL, CINAHL, ERIC, Ovid Embase, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid PsycINFO, and Scopus were searched with keywords related to “pharmacological knowledge”, “prescribing skills”, “educational interventions” for articles published since 2016.

Results: 3595 records were identified, and 115 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. Eighty full-text articles were eligible and included in this review. Thirty-seven studies focused on improving prescribing skills, whilst 43 targeted pharmacological knowledge. A broad range of interventions was implemented, including e-learning, case-based, interprofessional, and experiential learning. Pharmacological knowledge and prescribing skills were measured in various ways, and all studies reported one or more positive findings at Kirkpatrick level 1 or 2. No study reported outcomes at Kirkpatrick levels 3 and 4.

Discussion: The World Health Organisation’s Good Guide to Prescribing was the foundation of the development of prescribing educational interventions. Emerging interventions such as experiential and interprofessional learning should be incorporated into the prescribing curriculum. Innovative approaches such as game-based learning can be considered for clinical pharmacology teaching. However, there was a lack of outcomes at Kirkpatrick levels 3 and 4. Robust methodology and reliable outcome measures are also needed in future studies.


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