Discussing Illicit Recreational Drugs with Patients: How Prepared Do Medical Students Feel?
Drug-related deaths are currently at a record-high in Scotland and drug-related acute hospital stays have increased four-fold over the past twenty years. Therefore, ensuring health professionals are adequately prepared to tackle this issue is critical. Teaching about recreational drugs in medical education has recently been investigated across medical schools in England and new teaching initiatives developed as a result. However, no Scottish medical school participated, and research remains scant overall.This qualitative study used a focus group to investigate the views of medical students at the University of Glasgow Medical School (UOGMS) on whether they feel adequately prepared to discuss issues surrounding recreational drugs during patient consultations, including health promotion and linking with known health outcomes. Findings show that the topic of recreational drugs could be further integrated into the curriculum and students believe that they lack the knowledge to properly support patients. Formal teaching is seen as insufficient and important learning opportunities such as placements are of variable benefit due to a widespread variability in teaching standards on the issue. A positive outcome is the emergence of specific gaps in knowledge, and ideas for change, including specific themes for further study modules; thus, this research opens the way for change in an understudied area of medical education.