A qualitative analysis of medical students' reflection on attending an alcoholics anonymous meeting: Insights for future addiction curricula

Kurt J. Kastenholz*, Gaurava Agarwal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: This paper describes medical students' views of alcoholism and their response to attending an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting during their psychiatry clerkship. This may assist other educators in planning their addiction curricula. Methods: Medical students were required to attend an AA meeting during their psychiatry clerkship and then to write a reflection piece on this experience. We selected a random sample of 40 pieces and performed a qualitative analysis to identify the prominent ideas and themes in this sample. Results: Medical students found their experience attending an AA meeting to be educationally valuable. They reported their familiarity with AA prior to this experience was largely limited to popular media depictions. Students reported understanding alcoholism as a disease with both biological and psychosocial components. They were often concerned with the presence of religiosity and spirituality at the meetings. Following the experience, students felt more comfortable referring patients to AA and identified empathy, honesty, and openness as crucial contributors to the efficacy of AA. Conclusions: Students felt that attending an AA meeting during their psychiatry clerkship was an educationally valuable experience. Medical students' familiarity with addiction treatment is limited, and attending an AA meeting may be helpful in increasing their comfort with treating addicted patients in the future. In addition, educators may want to explicitly address the spirituality issue related to some treatment programs to increase the likelihood that future physicians feel comfortable referring their patients to recovery programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)468-474
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Volume40
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Keywords

  • Addiction
  • Alcoholics anonymous
  • Attitudes
  • Medical students
  • Spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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