Long-term impact of undergraduate community-based clinical training on community healthcare practice in Japan: a cross-sectional study

BMC Med Educ. 2020 Oct 1;20(1):337. doi: 10.1186/s12909-020-02258-3.


Background: Community-based medical education (CBME) has been evolving globally. However, the long-term impacts of CBME programs on career intention are ambiguous. Therefore, this study aimed to reveal the long-term impact of community-based clinical training (CBCT) such as CBME programs in Japan on current community healthcare (CH) practice.

Methods: This cross-sectional study targeted physicians who had graduated from Kobe University School of Medicine between 1998 and 2004 and had over 15 years' experience after graduation. Self-administered questionnaires were mailed to participants between September and November 2019. Of the 793 potential subjects, 325 questionnaires were undeliverable. A total of 468 questionnaires substantially sent to the subjects. The exposure was the undergraduate CBCT defined as clinical training about CH in a community. The primary outcome was the provision of current CH practice. The secondary outcome was rural retention. The odds ratios (ORs) and confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated, and the confounders (age, gender, and attitude toward CH at admission; primary outcome, and age, gender, attitude toward rural healthcare at admission, own and spouse's hometown, and emphasis on child education; secondary outcomes) were adjusted using multivariate logistic regression analysis.

Results: A total of 195 (41.7%) questionnaires were analyzed. The mean (standard deviation [SD]) age of study participants was 43.8 (3.5) years and 76.4% were men. A total of 48 physicians (24.6%) experienced CBCT, of which the mean (SD) training period was 26.3 (27.3) days. As many as 148 (76.3%) physicians provided CH at the time of the study, and 12 (6.5%) worked in rural areas. There was no notable impact of undergraduate CBCT on current CH practice (OR, 1.24; 95% CI, 0.53-3.08; adjusted OR [aOR], 1.00; 95% CI, 0.43-2.30) and rural retention (OR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.06-2.94; aOR, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.11-3.04).

Conclusions: It may be insufficient to use conventional CBCT in Japan to develop CH professionals effectively. Japanese CBME programs should be standardized through a review of their content and quality. They should continue to be evaluated for their medium- to long-term effects.

Keywords: Clinical training; Community healthcare; Community-based medical education; Rural; Undergraduate.