Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Importance of the Medical Humanities among Adolescents: Developing a Medical Humanities Questionnaire

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Importance of the Medical Humanities among Adolescents: Developing a Medical Humanities Questionnaire

Article excerpt

Since the implementation of national health insurance in Taiwan, hospitals have placed increasing emphasis on finding ways to keep to the budget and to treat the maximum number of patients for the money available (Chung, 2003). This focus on the commercialization of medical care has come at a time when technology and science have become the main components of medical education (Tai, 2000). With advances in science and technology, medical treatment has been increasingly instrumentalized and datalized, and patients are seen as scientific objects (Huang, 1996; Lin & Huang, 1999; Lin, Khu, Lin, & Chang, 2003). This emphasis on medical science has brought about concerns that the treatment process has become dehumanized and that doctors have forgotten that "medicine is more about restoring peace of mind than curing the disease" (Huang, 1996; Lin & Huang, 1999). The psychological world of each patient is, thus, often overlooked. Medical humanities departments have gradually become involved in medical education in an effort to balance scientific content with humanistic content, and to reintroduce humaneness into medical care (Gull, 2005). The purpose of medical humanities courses is to humanize medical care by having students learn about topics such as pain, suffering, illness, disease, aging, dying, and loss from a humanistic perspective with the intention of creating a more holistic approach to medical care (Hsu, 2005; Macnaughton, 2000).

The purpose in this study was to develop a questionnaire to measure the individual perceptions among adolescents of issues related to medical humanities. The original questionnaire was completed by a randomly selected group of Taiwanese adults, and then the developed questionnaire was completed by students enrolled in medical science courses, and by others who were not enrolled in such courses to establish whether or not there was any significant difference between the two groups in their awareness of these issues.

METHOD

Participants

The face-to-face questionnaire was completed by 460 people chosen randomly from the general public. Eleven questionnaires were invalid because they were returned with missing data. The response rate was 97.61% of available participants (N = 449). Among the participants, 58.6% were female (n = 263) and 41.4% were male (n = 186). The participants ranged in age as follows: 9.4% (n = 42) were younger than 20; 22.9% (n = 103) were between 21 and 30; 30.3% (n = 136) were between 31 and 40; 25.2% (n = 113) were between 41 and 50; and 12.2% (n = 55) were older than 51. In educational background, 11.4% (n = 51) identified themselves as having attended elementary or junior high school only; 22.3% (n = 100) had graduated from high school; 28.3% (n = 127) had a college degree; 28.9% (n = 130) had a university degree; and 9.1% (n = 41) had a postgraduate qualification.

The Development of the Questionnaire

After a series of literature reviews and panel discussions, an initial list of 54 items was reduced to 34 items. Answers to the selected questions were measured on a 5-point Likert scale with scores ranging from 5 = strongly agree to 1 = strongly disagree. The higher the score the more importance a participant placed on the issues related to medical humanities that were presented in the questionnaire.

The questionnaire was developed in English and then translated into Chinese before being reviewed by two bilingual English teachers. It was then translated back into English by a Taiwanese doctoral student majoring in English. The original and subsequent versions were compared by a native English speaker who has a doctorate in English, and minor modifications were made. The final version was checked by three experts in the medical humanities for content validity, and five university students were selected to help clarify each item to avoid ambiguity. Statistics were calculated using SPSS version 14. …

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