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Revista de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 0124-0064


MEDINA, Ana María. Representing cancer in undergraduate medical students: implications for practice and teaching. Rev. salud pública [online]. 2007, vol.9, n.3, pp.369-379. ISSN 0124-0064.

Objective This study was aimed at reconstructing social representations regarding cancer formed by a group of health personnel (medical students) as part of a long-term study and how such representations affect relationships with patients and family members and their medical practice. Methods The investigation integrated qualitative methods from social psychology and anthropology in medical education. Four focal groups formed by medical students were applied throughout 2003 and 2004 for developing this phase. Results For first semester medical students cancer was seen as being an entity independent of the person being afflicted by it, acquiring anthropomorphic or zoomorphic qualities, associated with a loss of limits and control. Cancer patients were represented as being people without a future who would lose their social and affective links. Discussion Social representations must become changed in our immediate setting, leading to new ways of relating to cancer patients in medical services.

Keywords : Cancer; undergraduate medical education; social perception.

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