Undergraduate allergy teaching in a UK medical school: mapping and assessment of an undergraduate curriculum

Prim Care Respir J. 2006 Jun;15(3):173-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pcrj.2006.04.002. Epub 2006 May 3.


Background: Concerns have been expressed by patient and professional bodies, and the UK Parliamentary Health Select Committee, about the poor standard of allergy teaching in UK medical schools. It is argued that this deficiency is an important contributing factor to the generally poor quality of care experienced by patients with allergic disorders. Allergy services are currently being reviewed by the Scottish Executive and Department of Health for England.

Objective: To describe and map the teaching of allergy-related topics in the formal undergraduate curriculum of a UK medical school.

Methods: We undertook a systematic analysis of learning objectives and other electronic documentation of modules taught during the five years of undergraduate medical training at the University of Edinburgh.

Results: Allergy and allergy-related topics are mentioned within the learning objectives of 11 (26%) of the 43 modules in the five-year MBChB curriculum. Our overall assessment reveals significant gaps in the described curriculum regarding allergy-related topics.

Conclusion: Although formal teaching on allergic disorders has been identified in a number of modules throughout the five years, it is not comprehensively described in the course documentation and significant gaps exist. We accept that the delivered curriculum may not be captured by the level of detail present in the learning objectives and recommend that further mapping and triangulation is undertaken through student focus groups and information gathering from teaching staff. We also recommend that in the absence of informal and clinical attachment opportunities in allergic disorders, the stated learning objectives be developed into a coherent vertical element throughout the medical curriculum. This, together with an advocate and suitable assessment, would increase the impact of allergy training on students and emphasise the knowledge and skills required to deliver high quality allergy care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity*
  • Teaching*
  • United Kingdom