Students’ perceptions and satisfaction with pharmacology teaching in a problem-based learning medical curriculum

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

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


Background; Effective pharmacology learning can contribute to preparing medical students to become safe prescribers. The literature suggests that problem-based learning (PBL) is an effective mode of curriculum delivery in medical schools. However, there is a lack of studies that address the effectiveness of pharmacology teaching in PBL-based curricula and its impact on the development of effective and safe prescribing skills.

Summary of work; A literature review was conducted to identify factors that may affect satisfaction and perceptions in pharmacology teaching in a PBL environment. Based on the elicited factors, a focus group guide and an interview guide were constructed. Year 1 and Year 2 students of the 4-year undergraduate medical programme delivered concurrently on two campuses (UK and Cyprus), following the same curriculum, were invited to participate in either a focus group (Cyprus) or personal interviews (UK). Qualitative analysis was performed by two independent assessors and major themes were identified.

Summary of results; Three major themes arose from the analysis: 1) PBL as a Learning Environment; 2) PBL as a learning environment in Pharmacology; and 3) PBL as a learning environment and confidence in prescribing. Under theme one, students addressed issues pertaining to skill and knowledge acquisition, comparison to lectures and their preferences. Under theme two, issues pertaining to the depth of knowledge as well as correctness of material were identified. Under theme 3, students expressed variability in confidence in prescribing and related that to the depth of knowledge for each drug.

Discussion and Conclusions; Overall, students were satisfied with learning in a PBL environment. However, they believed that the depth of knowledge was variable and, in many cases, not satisfactory to provide confidence in prescribing. This is not surprising as the study was conducted with Year 1 and 2 students. Follow-up studies in more senior students are currently underway to investigate these findings further.

Take-home Messages; A PBL-based curriculum provides a positive learning environment for pharmacology teaching. Still, students’ perceived lack of depth may prevent confidence in prescribing.

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 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
EventInternational Association for Medical Education (AMEE) 2021 -
Duration: 27 Aug 2021 → …


ConferenceInternational Association for Medical Education (AMEE) 2021
Period27/08/21 → …


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