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Medical research and audit skills training for undergraduates: an international analysis and student-focused needs assessment
  1. STARSurg Collaborative
  1. King’s Centre for Global Health, Weston Education Centre, Cutcombe Road, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to STARSurg Collaborative c/o JE Fitzgerald, King’s Centre for Global Health, Weston Education Centre, Cutcombe Road, London, SE5 9RJ, UK; jeffitzgerald{at}


Introduction Interpreting, performing and applying research is a key part of evidence-based medical practice, however, incorporating these within curricula is challenging. This study aimed to explore current provision of research skills training within medical school curricula, provide a student-focused needs assessment and prioritise research competencies.

Methods A international, cross-sectional survey of final year UK and Irish medical students was disseminated at each participating university. The questionnaire investigated research experience, and confidence in the Medical Education in Europe (MEDINE) 2 consensus survey research competencies.

Results Fully completed responses were received from 521 final year medical students from 32 medical schools (43.4% male, mean age 24.3 years). Of these, 55.3% had an additional academic qualification (49.5% Bachelor’s degree), and 38.8% had been a named author on an academic publication. Considering audit and research opportunities and teaching experience, 47.2% reported no formal audit training compared with 27.1% who reported no formal research training. As part of their medical school course, 53.4% had not performed an audit, compared with 29.9% who had not participated in any clinical or basic science research. Nearly a quarter of those who had participated in research reported doing so outside of their medical degree course. Low confidence areas included selecting and performing the appropriate statistical test, selecting the appropriate research method, and critical appraisal. Following adjustment, several factors were associated with increased confidence including previous clinical research experience (OR 4.21, 2.66 to 6.81, P<0.001), additional degrees (OR 2.34, 1.47 to 3.75, P<0.001), and male gender (OR 1.90, 1.25 to 2.09, P=0.003). Factors associated with an increase in perceived opportunities included formal research training in the curriculum (OR 1.66, 1.12 to 2.46, P=0.012), audit skills training in the curriculum (OR 1.52, 1.03 to 2.26, P= 0.036) and research methods taught in a student selected component (OR 1.75, 1.21 to 2.54, P=0.003).

Discussion Nearly one-third of students lacked formal training on undertaking research, and half of students lacked formal audit training and opportunities to undertake audit as part of their medical school course. The presence of research training in the cirriculum was associated with an increase in perceived opportunities to participate in MEDINE2 research competencies. Female gender and a lack of previous research experience were significant factors influencing confidence and participation in research.

  • Research and Development
  • Research Activities
  • Training Programs
  • Educational Activities
  • Education
  • Undergraduate

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  • Contributors All authors listed in the collaborating authors section were involved in study conception, data collection and critical revision of the manuscript. The steering committee designed the project, undertook data analysis, wrote and critically revised the manuscript.

  • Funding The STARSurg Collaborative has received in-kind support from the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. These organisations have not been involved in the drafting of this protocol or review of this manuscript.

  • Competing interests The authors declare no competing interests with respect to this study. STARSurg is run by the Surgical Research Gateway (SuRG)Foundation. The SuRG Foundation is a registered charity (charity number 1 159 898) whose objective is to advance the education of medical students and doctors in surgical science, clinical research and audit methods by promoting participation in collaborative clinical research and audit studies.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was granted by the University of Sheffield Research Ethics Committee (Reference 001871).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The data used in this study is available on reasonable request to the authors.

  • Collaborators STARSurg Collaborative Steering and Writing Group: Thomas Drake, Michael Bath, Henry Claireaux, Midhun Mohan, J Edward F Fitzgerald (overall guarantor). Collaborators: Katie Dynes, Priyank Patel, Gemma Nixon, Catrin Wigley, Abigail Shaw, Patrick Jull, Ryan Preece, Ciaran Doherty, Ibrahim Ibrahim, Venughanan Manikavasagar, Praveena Deekonda, Dayna Sim, Roxanne Teo, Aditya Borakati, Ishani Barai, Andrew Logan, Rajiv Sethi, Sukrit Suresh, William Bolton, Olivia Corbridge, Laura Horne, Rachel Morley, Cal Robinson, Rupert Smith, Ross McAllister, Samuel Lee, Yoni Dennis, Lisa McNamee, Lauren Ng, Sahan Samaraweera, Holly Wilson, Annika Mills, Jessica Belchos, Lucretia Woin, Vivian Phan, Stephen J Chapman, James Glasbey, Chetan Khatri, Chia Kong, Dmitri Nepogodiev, Ewen M Harrison, Aneel Bhangu.

  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it was published Online First. Ciaran Doherty was included under Collaborators.

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