Medical student knowledge of global health problems: Obstetric fistulas in developing countries

Caroline E. Foust-Wright, S. Abbas Shobeiri, Christine L. Curry, Lieschen H. Quiroz, Mikio A. Nihira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate medical students in the United States at several medical schools regarding their knowledge of the global health burden of obstetric fistulas. STUDY DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 8 schools across the United States over a period of 6 months. The survey was composed of 18 questions on epidemiology, pathology, and treatment of fistulas. It was a web-based module accessed through an emailed link. It was sent to 5,103 medical students' email addresses at the 8 institutions once a week for 4 weeks. SPSS paired student t tests was used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: Of the 1,089 students from 8 medical schools that initially began the survey, 965 completed this voluntary and anonymous survey, with a 21% response rate and 19% completion rate. Overall the students averaged 11/18 (60.7%) correct on this survey. The knowledge of obstetric fistula improved, but not significantly, with increasing level of medical school education, with first-year medical students achieving 10/18 (55%) correct and senior medical students achieving 12/18 (67%) correct (p=0.1). CONCLUSION: U.S. medical students' knowledge of obstetric fistulas in developing countries does not increase significantly over 4 years of medical school education. While this condition presents largely in the developing world, given rapid globalization as well as increased international health experiences for U.S.-trained health professionals, further effort should be placed in improving medical student knowledge of this devastating condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-430
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Reproductive Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012


  • Fistula
  • Medical education
  • Obstetric fistula

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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