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The understanding of core pharmacological concepts among health care students in their final semester
Department Pharmacology, Institution of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Department Pedagogical, Curricular and Professional Studies, Faculty of Education, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden; School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Drug Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. Region Östergötland, Center for Diagnostics, Department of Clinical Pharmacology.
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Drug Research. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2764-3095
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2015 (English)In: BMC Medical Education, ISSN 1472-6920, E-ISSN 1472-6920, Vol. 15, no 1, 235Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


The overall aim of the study was to explore health care students´ understanding of core concepts in pharmacology.


An interview study was conducted among twelve students in their final semester of the medical program (n = 4), the nursing program (n = 4), and the specialist nursing program in primary health care (n  = 4) from two Swedish universities. The participants were individually presented with two pharmacological clinically relevant written patient cases, which they were to analyze and propose a solution to. Participants were allowed to use the Swedish national drug formulary. Immediately thereafter the students were interviewed about their assessments. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. A thematic analysis was used to identify units of meaning in each interview. The units were organized into three clusters: pharmacodynamics, pharmacokinetics, and drug interactions. Subsequent procedure consisted of scoring the quality of students´ understanding of core concepts. Non-parametric statistics were employed.


The study participants were in general able to define pharmacological concepts, but showed less ability to discuss the meaning of the concepts in depth and to implement these in a clinical context. The participants found it easier to grasp concepts related to pharmacodynamics than pharmacokinetics and drug interactions.


These results indicate that education aiming to prepare future health care professionals for understanding of more complex pharmacological reasoning and decision-making needs to be more focused and effective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
BioMed Central, 2015. Vol. 15, no 1, 235
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-123977DOI: 10.1186/s12909-015-0522-zISI: 000367434000001PubMedID: 26715297OAI: diva2:894704
Östergötland County Council, LIO-198671

Also funded by Sahlgrenska Academy, (V 2011/437)

Available from: 2016-01-15 Created: 2016-01-15 Last updated: 2016-09-26Bibliographically approved

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Hägg, StaffanKjellgren, KarinReis, Margareta
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