Objectives Neurological disorders are the leading cause disability in Australia and the world. Combating the perceived difficulty of neurology or ‘neurophobia’ and improving physician education is a key component in addressing this problem. We aim to conduct the first study to identify whether neurophobia exists in medical students and junior doctors in an Australian population and try to identify factors that may contribute to this in this population.
Method A 24 question online validated survey was distributed via email broadcast to all medical students and junior doctors at a metropolitan tertiary care centre in Australia. Responses were collected over 6 weeks with weekly reminder emails for 4 weeks after the initial invitation email.
Results 114 medical students and junior doctors participated in the study. Participants perceived neurology as the most difficult medical speciality compared to 10 other medical specialties (p=0.001). The top three factors contributing to this perceived difficulty were: a lack of understanding of neuroanatomy, lack of diagnostic certainty and lack of clinical exposure. 65% of the participants stated that they had too little planned teaching in neurology with only 36% of the participants having performed a neurology rotation during medical school.
Conclusion The prevalence of neurophobia in this Australian cohort of medical students and junior doctors is consistent with previous findings from around the world. This concerning finding requires further examination into the contributing factors in order to created trials of targeted interventions in order to resolve this.
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