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Objective: To evaluate the level of awareness amongst medical students in regard to a recently reported fatal spider bite in Thailand. To determine whether the students accurately understood the reported news.
Methods: This cross-sectional survey was conducted in the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, Thailand. Participants included medical students who studied during July 2014. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to medical students from August 2015 to March 2016.
Results: Of the 1104 questionnaires distributed, 532 students responded (48.2%). The mean age was 22.5 years (SD ± 1.5 years). Only 212 participants (40%) indicated awareness of the reported news, with the least proportion being 2nd year students (29.1%, p=0.014). Of the 212 students who reported awareness of the news, only 116 (55.2%)
perceived it correctly. Correct perception of the news was most prevalent amongst 6th year medical students (65.7%). It was noted that all respondents had one or more lessons covering animal toxins, including spiders, but only 64(12.1%) were able to recall this fact.
Conclusion: The majority of students who participated in this study were either unaware of the news concerning fatal spider bite, or were aware but had misunderstood the reported facts. This occurred despite intense media coverage of this incident. It is therefore proposed that the medical curriculum should be designed to enable students to have
more time for extra-curricular activities, especially those which relate directly to their field of study.
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