Objective: Over the last century, the number of disasters has increased. Many governments and scientific institutions agree that disaster medicine education should be included in the standard medical curriculum. Italian medical students' perceptions of mass casualty incidents and disasters and whether-and if so to what extent-such topics are part of their academic program were investigated.
Design, setting, and participants: A Web-based survey was disseminated to all students registered with the national medical students' association (Segretariato Italiano Studenti Medicina), a member of the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations. The survey consisted of 14 questions divided into four sections.
Results: Six hundred thirty-nine medical students completed the survey; 38.7 percent had never heard about disaster medicine; 90.9 percent had never attended elective academic courses on disaster medicine; 87.6 percent had never attended non-academic courses on disaster medicine; 91.4 percent would welcome the introduction of a course on disaster medicine in their core curriculum; and 94.1 percent considered a knowledge of disaster medicine important for their future career.
Conclusions: Most of the students surveyed had never attended courses on disaster medicine during their medical school program. However, respondents would like to increase their knowledge in this area and would welcome the introduction of specific courses into the standard medical curriculum.