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Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine the attitude of first year students entering a paramedic course over 4 consecutive yearly intakes toward patients with intellectual disability, substance abuse, attempted suicide, and acute mental illness. Method: The students’ attitude towards four medical conditions commonly encountered in the out-of-hospital setting was assessed using the Medical Condition Regard Scale (MCRS). The MCRS score ranges from 11 to 66. Results: 230 students in Victoria, Australia, participated in the study; 66% were female, and 76% of all students < 21 years of age. Students showed the most negative attitudes towards substance abuse, mean 35(SD+6.6), and the most positive attitude toward intellectual disability, mean 38.2(SD+6.3). Students in 2008 cohort displayed significantly higher regard for all medical conditions (p<0.05). The 2009 and 2010 study participants demonstrated significantly lower regard, mean 36 (p=0.01) and mean 36.2 (p=0.018), for intellectual disability cases when compared to the most recent 2011 study group; mean 38.6. Conclusions: The study findings suggest that these students in Victoria, Australia, entering an undergraduate paramedic or paramedic/nursing course have a relatively poor attitude towards the four reviewed medical conditions, particularly substance abuse.

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