Medical Students’ Perceptions, Knowledge, and Competence in Treating Neurodivergent, Disability, and Chronic Illness (NDCI) Populations: Results from a Cross-Sectional Study




Medical students, Education, Medical education, Disabled persons, Medical school


Background: Globally, Neurodivergent, Disability, and Chronic Illness (NDCI) populations face significant health disparities. Lack of physician knowledge about NDCI is a key mechanism underlying these disparities. The current study aimed to describe medical students’ perceptions, knowledge, and competence regarding NDCI.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out using an online survey of medical students at a large public university with no NDCI-specific curriculum (n = 97; response rate = 18%). The survey asked about students’ perceptions, knowledge, and competence pertaining to NDCI populations.

Results: Most (n = 93, 96%) indicated it is important for physicians to understand the influence of NDCI on patient health and clinical encounters. Yet only seven (7%) and 15 (15%) reported that the NDCI curriculum in their medical school was sufficient, and they felt comfortable taking care of patients with NDCI respectively. Most (n = 87, 90%) wanted their medical school to provide additional NDCI training. Few reported high knowledge about ableism (n = 12, 12%), self-determination (n = 7, 7%), coordinating care (n = 4, 4%) and accommodations (n = 10, 10%). Few indicated high competence in cognitive, physical, social-emotional, and other NDCI types (n = 7 – 32, 7-33%). Existing knowledge often came from personal experiences or the news and media.

Conclusion: Findings demonstrated the gaps in medical education, as exemplified by medical students surveyed in one U.S. public university. Results can inform efforts to ameliorate global health disparities associated with a lack of physician knowledge about NDCI.


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2022-06-30 — Updated on 2022-07-12


How to Cite

Hotez, E., Ayoub, M., Rava, J., Jawadi, Z., Rosenau, K. A., Taiclet, L., Nasrallah, L., Poplawski, C., & Kuo, A. A. (2022). Medical Students’ Perceptions, Knowledge, and Competence in Treating Neurodivergent, Disability, and Chronic Illness (NDCI) Populations: Results from a Cross-Sectional Study. International Journal of Medical Students, 10(2), 148–157. (Original work published June 30, 2022)



Original Article