Dr. Zager and I have accomplished both of our most prioritied research goals, which were:
1. Create a suvey to assess medical students perceptions and attitudes toward persons with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
2. Administer the survey to medical students as a pilot test to modify and strengthen our research methods
Rather than create an entirely new survey instrument, Dr. Zager and I modified an existing instrument (which I previously described in my blogs) that measured attitudes toward general disabilities. I had modified that instrument by researching significant attributes that can typically apply to a person with ASD and molding the existing questions by applying these traits.
Ensuring that the variables I swaped out were actuate, was challenging. It was very important to keep the participant in mind when forming the questions, and to ensure we were addressing the intended objectives of the study.
On Monday, March 17th, Dr. Symons, a contributing of Dr. Zager’s and my study, administered the first version of the survey that I created. The pilot test was conducted with 145 first-year medical students. Ironically, this date was one of only a few dates available to reach out to them all, and immediately after all participants completed the survey, they attended a lecture on the topic of disabilities.
This situation could have had a different effect on our study than if the survey were to be administrated on an average day. It is highly possible that the students were mentally prepared to discuss disabilities, thus leading to greater thought and in-depth analysis of questions.
Since the survey has been completed, Dr. Zager and I plan to have additional contributors from the original study to conduct a statistical analysis of the data.
I look so very forward to seeing the results, and to using these results to guide a curriculum that will enhance the education of medical students to reflect issues of serving persons with autism.
Since this study commenced, Dr. Zager has kept me informed and has taught me so much about the publishing and authoring process. Upon completion of this study, I look forward to working together to submit this piece to a peer-reviewed journal.