Improving diagnosis in healthcare: Local versus national adoption of recommended guidelines for the clinical breast examination

Published:December 04, 2017DOI:



      This study explores the long-term effectiveness of a newly developed clinical skills curriculum.


      Students (N = 40) were exposed to a newly developed, simulation-based, clinical breast exam (CBE) curriculum. The same students returned one year later to perform the CBE and were compared to a convenience sample of medical students (N = 15) attending a national conferences. All students were given a clinical vignette and performed the CBE. CBE techniques were video recorded. Chi-squared tests were used to assess differences in CBE technique.


      Students exposed to a structured curriculum performed physical examination techniques more consistent with national guidelines than the random, national student sample. Structured curriculum students were more organized, likely to use two hands, a linear search pattern, and include the nipple-areolar complex during the CBE compared to national sample (p < 0.01).


      Students exposed to a structured skills curriculum more consistently performed the CBE according to national guidelines. The variability in technique compared with the national sample of students calls for major improvements in adoption and implementation of structured skills curricula.


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