Factors Associated with Medical Students' Attitudes About Cost-Conscious Care: A Mixed-Methods Multi-school Study

J Gen Intern Med. 2024 May 6. doi: 10.1007/s11606-024-08783-x. Online ahead of print.


Background: Because physician practices contribute to national healthcare expenditures, initiatives aimed at educating physicians about high-value cost-conscious care (HVCCC) are important. Prior studies suggest that the training environment influences physician attitudes and behaviors towards HVCCC.

Objective: To explore the relationship between medical student experiences and HVCCC attitudes.

Design: Quantitative and qualitative analysis of a multi-institutional survey.

Participants: Medical students from nine US medical schools.

Approach: A 44-item survey that included the Maastricht HVCCC Attitudes Questionnaire, a validated tool for assessing HVCCC attitudes, was administered electronically. Attitudinal domains of high-value care (HVC), cost incorporation (CI), and perceived drawbacks (PD) were compared using one-way ANOVA among students with a range of exposures. Open text responses inviting participants to reflect on their attitudes were analyzed using classical content analysis.

Key results: A total of 740 students completed the survey (response rate 15%). Students pursuing a "continuity-oriented" specialty held more favorable attitudes towards HVCCC than those pursuing "technique-oriented" specialties (HVC sub-score = 3.20 vs. 3.06; p = 0.005, CI sub-score = 2.83 vs. 2.74; p < 0.001). Qualitative analyses revealed personal, educational, and professional experiences shape students' HVCCC attitudes, with similar experiences interpreted differently leading to both more and less favorable attitudes.

Conclusion: Students pursuing specialties with longitudinal patient contact may be more enthusiastic about practicing high-value care. Life experiences before and during medical school shape these attitudes, and complex interactions between these forces drive student perceptions of HVCCC.

Keywords: HVC; high-value care; high-value cost-conscious care; undergraduate medical education..