U.S. medical students' attitudes about patients' access to care

Erica Frank, Surbhi Modi, Lisa Elon, Steven S. Coughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Accessing adequate medical services remains a major struggle for many Americans, but U.S. medical students' beliefs regarding access to care have not been thoroughly examined. Methods: All medical students in the Class of 2003 at 16 U.S. schools were eligible to complete three questionnaires during their medical training: during freshman orientation, orientation to wards, and their senior year (n = 2316, response rate = 80.3%). Students responded to three questions about health care provision. Results: Overall, 35% of students strongly agreed that "physicians have a responsibility to take care of patients regardless of their ability to pay;" only 5% disagreed. Only 8% disagreed that "access to basic health care is a fundamental human right." We found the same significant associations with opinions on access as we did with "responsibility to treat," although the associations tended to be stronger for access. Only 10% of students agreed that "Managed care, as it is now delivered, is a good way to deliver health care to the U.S. population.". Conclusion: Most U.S. medical students support universal access to medical care, though variations in this support, its decline with additional years of medical education, and concerns about managed care are noteworthy, and have policy implications for America's health and health care workforce.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Access to care
  • Managed care
  • Medical students
  • Physicians
  • Universal access

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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