Teaching evolution to psychiatrists in Venezuela: comparison with medical students and other medical specialists: a pilot study

  • Trino Baptista Los Andes University Medical School, Mérida, Venezuela
  • Elis Aldana Los Andes University, Science School, Biology Department, Merida, Venezuela
  • Felix Angeles Los Andes University School of Criminology, Mérida, Venezuela
  • Heidy Delgado Department of Psychiatry, Los Andes University Medical School, Mérida, Venezuela
Keywords: medical education, Darwinism, adaptation, vulnerability to disease

Abstract

Introduction: The teaching of evolution theory (ET) in medical programs has received scant attention in the literature. In this report, we first describe the main applications of ET in medicine. Second, we present the evaluation of an interactive seminar on ET given to groups of medical students, psychiatrists, and other medical specialists.

Methods: A two-hour, four-module, interactive seminar was conducted with separate groups of 27 psychiatrists, 15 family doctors, 18 neurologists, 13 physiatrists, 12 internists, and 24 sixth-year medical students without formal training in ET. Their knowledge of ET before and after the seminar was rated on a validated analogical scale (0-12). In addition, the perceived relevance of the information for the participants’ professional activity was assessed.

Results: Score averages and medians before the seminar were below 6, suggesting low to moderate knowledge. The students' scores did not differ significantly from those of the physicians except on the Hominization item, where they scored lower than the physicians (p = 0.02). The psychiatrists’ scores did not differ from those of the other groups before the seminar, but after the seminar the increase in their scores on a number of items was significantly smaller than that of the other groups. While all groups scored 10 or more when assessing the relevance of the information, the psychiatrists had the lowest score (p = 0.024).

Discussion: The results show the adequacy of short programs to enhance knowledge on ET. This may assist medical educators to develop comprehensive and compulsory courses. Future studies must explore whether psychiatrists are relatively reluctant or ambivalent to accept evolution concepts and proposals.

 

Author Biographies

Trino Baptista, Los Andes University Medical School, Mérida, Venezuela
Full Professor of Physiology and Psychiatry
Elis Aldana, Los Andes University, Science School, Biology Department, Merida, Venezuela
Full Professor of Biology
Felix Angeles, Los Andes University School of Criminology, Mérida, Venezuela
Full Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry
Heidy Delgado, Department of Psychiatry, Los Andes University Medical School, Mérida, Venezuela
Clinical Psychiatrist
Published
2012-09-30
Section
Major Contributions and Research Articles