Background: In 2003 the NIH perceived a need to strengthen teaching about tuberculosis (TB) to health professions students. The National Tuberculosis Curriculum Consortium (NTCC) was funded to meet this need. The purpose of this study was to survey students enrolled in NTCC schools prior to NTCC-developed educational materials being made available to faculty.
Methods: A self-administered survey for students in NTCC schools to establish a baseline level of knowledge, attitudes, and confidence about tuberculosis.
Results: 1480/2965 (50%) students in 28 programs in 20 NTCC schools completed the survey. If public health students are eliminated from totals (only 61 respondents of 765 public health students), the overall response proportion for the seven clinically-related disciplines was 64.5%. The majority (74%) were in schools of medicine (MD/DO), undergraduate nursing (BSN), and pharmacy (PharmD); others were in programs for physician assistants (PA), advanced practice nursing (NP/APN), respiratory therapy (RT), clinical laboratory sciences (MT/CLS), and public health (MPH). Almost 90% had attended at least one lecture about TB. Although 91.4% knew TB was transmitted via aerosols, about one-third did not know the method for administering tuberculin, or that Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine was not a contraindication to TB skin testing. Fewer than two-thirds knew that about 10% of people in the U.S.A. who have latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and a normal immune system will develop TB disease, or that BCG is not part of the routine vaccination program in the U.S.A. because it complicates surveillance for new TB infection.
Conclusion: There is room for improvement in knowledge, attitudes, and confidence about TB by health professions students surveyed. The NTCC-developed educational products may be used by faculty to improve student performance to be assessed with future surveys.