Clinical undergraduate training and assessment in primary health care: experiences gained from Crete, Greece

BMC Med Educ. 2005 May 9;5(1):13. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-5-13.


Background: Primary health care (PHC) is increasingly being introduced into undergraduate medical education. In Greece, the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Crete was the first to introduce a 4-week long training in primary health care. This paper presents the experiences gained from the initial implementation of the teaching of practice-based primary care in rural Crete and reports on the assessment scale that was developed.

Methods: 284 students' case write-ups from the 6 primary care units (PCUs) where they were allocated for the period 1990 to 1994 were analysed. The demographic data of the students and patients and the number of home visits were studied. Content analysis of the students' write-ups was carried out, using an assessment scale consisting of 10 dichotomous variables, in order to quantify eight (8) primary qualitative criteria.

Results: Internal reliability was estimated by the index KR20 = 0.67. Face and content validity was found to conform to the standards set for the course, while logistic linear regression analysis showed that the quality criteria could be used as an assessment scale. The number of home visits carried out varied between the various different PCUs (p < 0.001) and more were reported in the write-ups that fulfilled criteria related to the biopsychosocial approach (p < 0.05). Nine quantitative criteria were fulfilled in more than 90% of case reports, but laboratory investigations were reported only in 69.0% of case reports. Statistically significant differences between the PCUs were observed in the fulfilment of criteria related to the community approach, patient assessment and information related to the patient's perception of the illness, but not to those related to aspects of clinical patient management. Differences in reporting laboratory investigations (p < 0.001) are explained by the lack of such facilities in some PCUs. Demographic characteristics of the patients or the students' do not affect the criteria.

Conclusion: The primary health care course achieved the objectives of introducing students to comprehensive, community oriented care, although there was variation between the PCUs. The assessment scale that was developed to analyse the case-write ups of the students provided data that can be used to evaluate the course.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Greece
  • Home Care Services / standards
  • Home Care Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Medical Records / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Rural Health Services / standards*
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Schools, Medical