Does teaching pharmacology using PBL affect confidence in prescribing? The final year student perspective

Stella Nicolaou, Alexia Papageorgiou, Ioulia Televantou, Peter McCrorie, Anthony Albert, Andrew Hitchings, Persoulla Nicolaou

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Background; PBL is implemented by numerous medical schools and is considered an effective mode of curriculum delivery. Pharmacology teaching, is particularly important in this context as it helps build student confidence in prescribing. Our previous studies in year 1 and 2 students indicated a lack of confidence in prescribing, which was not surprising as the students were still early in their studies. The current project aimed to investigate student confidence in prescribing in final year students.

Summary of work; Final year students from an MBBS course on two campuses (UK and Cyprus), following the same curriculum, were invited to participate in either a focus group or personal interview. Both focus groups and interviews followed the same question guide. The guide was constructed based on the literature. Qualitative analysis was performed by two independent assessors and major themes were identified.

Summary of results; Qualitative analysis of the focus groups and interviews indicated four major themes: PBL as a Learning Environment, PBL as a learning environment in Pharmacology, the MBBS curriculum in relation to pharmacology and PBL as a learning environment and confidence in prescribing. Students were overall satisfied with the PBL environment and indicated higher level of confidence in prescribing as compared to Year 1 and 2 students. Focusing on the fourth theme, the students still expressed variability in confidence in prescribing. This was attributed both to the PBL curriculum as well as their own inexperience. Importantly, the students suggested that their confidence would increase if the PBL curriculum was less fragmented, it included additional resources and tests early on and if simulations were used in this context.

Discussion and Conclusions; Overall, final year student confidence in prescribing increased from Years and 2 but still remained variable. This was in spite of the fact that they were satisfied with the PBL environment. The lack of cohesion between the PBL cases and pharmacology lectures led to variable and, in many cases, not satisfactory level of confidence in prescribing.

Take-home Messages; Final year students enjoyed learning pharmacology in a PBL-based environment and their confidence in prescribing increased as compared to their Year 1 and 2 peers. Still, they believed that confidence would increase further if changes were made to the MBBS curriculum.

Funding: The project was funded by the Cyprus Research and Innovation Foundation under the Excellence Hubs Programme (EXCELLENCE/0918).

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAMEE, 2022
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022
EventAMEE - Lyon, France
Duration: 28 Aug 202231 Aug 2022




  • pbl, pharmacology, prescribing


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