Medical Students' Knowledge and Perception of Deep Brain Stimulation


BACKGROUND: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a well-established neurosurgical procedure commonly used in movement and psychiatric disorders. Its widespread clinical implementation, however, may not be commensurate with medical education. No current assessment of medical student's understanding of DBS as a treatment option for indicated conditions is available, potentially threatening the availability of DBS to future patients. The aim of the present study is to explore the current knowledge and attitudes of medical students toward DBS as a treatment modality. METHODS: A total of 65 medical students at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine were surveyed regarding their knowledge of DBS. The survey consisted of a 25-item questionnaire including a demographic section and 3 separate inventories designed to assess bias, knowledge, and self-assessment of knowledge specific to DBS therapy. Students in pre-clinical and clinical years were analyzed separately to describe changes in knowledge or attitude associated with clinical exposure to DBS. Comparisons were analyzed using t tests, ANOVA, and Pearson correlations. RESULTS: Of surveyed students, 36% were unsure of the FDA approval status of DBS treatment; 65% of students believed they had not been adequately educated about DBS and its utility; and 10.6% of students believed that DBS is likely associated with severe adverse effects and/or brain damage. The overall baseline attitudes of students toward DBS were positive. There was no observed difference between surveyed pre-clinical and clinical students, highlighting a lack of exposure throughout the clinical years of medical school education. CONCLUSION: Although DBS is an effective treatment modality for various conditions, current education is non-commensurate with its application, which can negatively impact awareness and understanding for its implications by medical professionals. In order to better serve patients who may benefit from DBS, medical curricula must change to educate future physicians on the benefit of this intervention.



Deep brain stimulation, medical education, student perception