To compare the number and scope of health promotion programs for students in allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the U.S. and Canada.
A one-time cross-sectional survey design was applied in this study.
This study was conducted in 141 accredited allopathic and 17 accredited osteopathic medical schools.
A total of 158 representatives from the allopathic and osteopathic medical schools participated in this study. The response rate for the survey was 100%.
A structured telephone interview was conducted to survey representatives from the medical schools. The survey contained 85 multiple-choice questions organized into four sections: administrative characteristics, types of institutional and health promotion program policies, participation incentives and facilities, and type/scope of health promotion program activities. Chi-square analysis was used to analyze survey variables by type of medical education and level of intervention.
Of the 158 medical schools, only 20% (n = 32) provided a health promotion program for students. Although osteopathic institutions (29.4%) had a greater percentage of programs than allopathic schools (19.2%), there was no significant difference in scope of program offerings by type of medical education. Allopathic programs offered exercise and nutrition/weight management significantly more often and at a higher level of intervention. Lastly, allopathic programs had significantly more monetary resources available for programming. Following prudent research protocol, investigators should be mindful of the limitations of this study. In this study, some school representatives chose not to answer personnel- and finance-related questions. Additionally, because of the self-report nature of the survey, the responses given to the questions may not have been accurate.
Allopathic and osteopathic medical school health promotion programs for students were very similar in scope.
Over the course of almost 10 years, 1988-97, there has been a significant decline in the number of United States and Canadian medical schools offering health promotion programmes for students. All efforts should be made to enhance the overall health and well-being of medical students and to increase the number of health promotion programmes for them.