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Changes in Physicians' Attitudes Toward AIDS During Residency Training: A Longitudinal Study of Medical School Graduates

Michael J. Yedidia, Carolyn A. Berry and Judith K. Barr
Journal of Health and Social Behavior
Vol. 37, No. 2 (Jun., 1996), pp. 179-191
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2137272
Page Count: 13
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Changes in Physicians' Attitudes Toward AIDS During Residency Training: A Longitudinal Study of Medical School Graduates
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Abstract

Understanding the impact of training on the development of physicians' attitudes toward AIDS is important to furthering our knowledge of the mechanisms through which socialization affects professional outlook, as well as promoting an adequate supply of providers to treat people with AIDS (PWAs). This prospective panel study collected data on 383 physicians at two critical stages: as fourth-year medical students and as third-year residents. Aspects of residency training (e.g., residents' morale and positive faculty role models) were the most powerful predictors of increase in willingness to treat PWAs. Decline in willingness was primarily a product of negative social attitudes-homophobia and IVDU-phobia (aversion to intravenous drug users). Cynicism toward patient care acted as a trigger, activating the negative effects of IVDU-phobia; having an acquaintance who is HIV positive mediated the negative impact of homophobia. Notably, cynicism was associated with basic aspects of training (specific characteristics of the faculty and of the educational milieu). The findings support a view of socialization as a pervasive process implicating intrinsic aspects of training and having an impact on a broad spectrum of outlooks. Accordingly, interventions must address structural characteristics that transcend AIDS-specific concerns.

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