Doctors' Challenges During Infectious Disease Outbreaks: Medical Education Insights from Realistic Fiction Movies

Adv Med Educ Pract. 2021 Mar 18;12:265-272. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S297427. eCollection 2021.


Background: Movies have a strong influence on public perceptions due to their popularity and accessibility. Hence, movies on healthcare providers in general and medical doctors in particular can affect public opinions, expectations, and attitudes toward these professions.

Aim: This paper aims to present how realistic fiction movies reflect doctors' roles and challenges during infectious disease outbreaks and describe how some of this content can be used in medical education settings.

Methods: Two sources were used to select the movies for inclusion in the study. First, the movie database was searched using the words "virus," "pandemic," "endemic," "epidemic," "outbreak," and "infectious disease." Second, Google was used to search the terms "movies on pandemics," "movies on epidemics," "movies on outbreaks," "movies on endemics," "movies on virus," and "movies on infectious diseases." Inclusion criteria were English language movies, realistic fiction movies, doctors as main actors, and a movie focus on community experiences. Exclusion criteria were non-English movies, zombie and apocalypse movies, doctors in secondary roles, and movies about individual experiences.

Results: Eight movies met the inclusion criteria. Content analysis was conducted on all movies, and the main categories identified were doctors' roles, doctors' vulnerability, potential biases, potential conflicts, female doctors' power, and doctors bringing salvation.

Conclusion: Realistic movies on infectious disease outbreaks can be excellent tools for teaching medical students about doctors' roles and challenges when fighting an outbreak.

Keywords: doctors’ experiences; infectious disease outbreak; medical humanities; medical students; realistic movies.

Grant support

The study was not funded at any stage.