Negative attitudes on the job may signal a lack of training, especially if the people who are demonstrating the poor attitude are otherwise high achievers.
That’s one interpretation of a study of doctors. Researchers found medical students often displayed negative attitudes toward patients with multiple unexplained symptoms.
The doctors in the study offered various reasons for these attitudes, but the most common one was that they’d received no training in how to deal with such patients.
Instead, they’d modeled their behavior on that of their mentors and peers. And they tended to pick up the other doctors’ negative attitudes and frustration at being either (1) unable to identify what was wrong, and (2) uncertainty whether the patients’ problems were psychosomatic.
Implication: Attitudinal surveys may be one way to identify unmet training needs. In this study, the students expressed an eagerness for better training on how to handle delivering “no news” to the patient, as opposed to “bad news.”
Source: Shattock, L., et al. (2013). ‘They’ve just got symptoms without science’: Medical trainees’ acquisition of negative attitudes towards patients with medically unexplained symptoms. Patient Education and Counseling 91, 249-254.
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