, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 807-815

Barriers to undergraduate peer-physical examination of the lower limb in the health sciences and strategies to improve inclusion: a review

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Abstract

Peer-physical examination is a widely adopted and an integral component of the undergraduate curriculum for many health science programs. Unwillingness or perceived inability to participate in peer-physical examination classes may have a negative impact upon students’ abilities to competently conduct physical examinations of patients in future as registered health professionals. A literature review on the perceptions and attitudes of peer-physical examination of the lower limb amongst medical and health science students was conducted to identify potential barriers to participation, and to review strategies to improve participation in classes designed to develop clinical examination skills. A pragmatic search strategy of the literature from PubMed and Google Scholar published prior to June 2012 yielded 23 relevant articles. All articles were concerned with the views of medical students’ education and there were no articles explicitly addressing the role of peer-physical examination in health science disciplines. Several ethical issues were identified including feelings of coercion, embarrassment, and perceptions of a lack of consideration for cultural and religious beliefs. The available evidence suggests that barriers to participation may be overcome by implementing standard protocols concerned with obtaining informed written consent, adequate choice of peer-examiner, changing facilities and garment advice, and possible alternative learning methods.