Background: Screening mammography for women in their 40s is controversial, and counseling patients about it can be challenging. Debate is an educational tool that lends itself to teaching about controversial topics and improving communication skills but is underused in medical education. Purpose: The purpose of this intervention was to improve residents' willingness to discuss mammography with patients. Methods: Second-year internal medicine residents participated in a 3-hr structured debate on screening mammography for women in their 40s. The intervention's effect was measured using pretest and posttest questionnaires. Results: A total of 33 residents participated in 6 debates between January and June of 2003. Comparison of pretest and posttest questionnaires showed that participants became more comfortable discussing mammography screening and were more likely to discuss it with their patients after the debate. Conclusions: A structured debate resulted in residents reporting increased comfort level and willingness to discuss mammography with women in their 40s.
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