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Interprofessional medical-legal education of medical students: Assessing the benefits for addressing social determinants of health

R. Pettignano, L. Bliss, S. McLaren, S. Caley
Acad Med

Problem: Screening tools exist to help identify patient issues related to social determinants of health (SDH), but solutions to many of these problems remain elusive to health care providers as they require legal solutions. Interprofessional medical-legal education is essential to optimizing health care delivery.

Approach: In 2011, the authors implemented a four-session didactic interprofessional curriculum on medical-legal practice for third-year medical students at Morehouse School of Medicine. This program, also attended by law students, focused on interprofessional collaboration to address client/patient SDH issues and health-harming legal needs. In 2011-2014, the medical students participated in pre- and post-intervention surveys designed to determine their awareness of SDH's impact on health as well as their attitudes toward screening for SDH issues and incorporating resources, including a legal resource, to address them. Mean ratings were compared between pre- and post-intervention respondent cohorts using independent-sample t tests.

Outcomes: Of the 222 medical students who participated in the program, 102 (46%) completed the pre-intervention survey and 100 (45%) completed the post-intervention survey. Postintervention survey results indicated that students self-reported an increased likelihood to screen patients for SDH issues and an increased likelihood to refer patients to a legal resource (P

Next Steps: Incorporating interprofessional medical-legal education into undergraduate medical education may result in an increased likelihood to screen patients for SDH and to refer patients with legal needs to a legal resource. In the future, an additional evaluation to assess the curriculum's long-term impact will be administered prior to graduation.

Pettignano R, Bliss L, McLaren S, Caley S. Interprofessional medical-legal education of medical students: assessing the benefits for addressing social determinants of health. Acad Med. 2017. 92(9):1254-1258. PMID: 28177959. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001581.

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Publication year
Resource type
Peer Reviewed Research
Health Care Professionals
Study design
Pre-post without Comparison Group