First and third year medical student's deceptive conducts

Conductas de engaño de alumnos de primero y tercer año de Medicina

Ana María Rancicha, Nahuel Méndez Diodatia, Sabrina F. Merinoa, María Eugenia Aruannoa, Martín Donato a, Ricardo J. Gelpia

aInstituto de Bioquímica y Medicina Molecular (IBIMOL), Subsede Instituto de Fisiopatología Cardiovascular (INFICA), Facultad de Medicina, UBA-CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Recibido el 26 de noviembre de 2015; aceptado el 11 de febrero de 2016

Palabras Clave

Engaño. Alumnos. Educación médica.


Deception. Students. Medical education.


Introduction: The medical career should attract students with high moral values. New technologies and access to information could facilitate deceptive behaviour. The academic experience of the student could also be an influence.

Aim: To compare consideration, severity, observation and execution of deceptive behaviours, and reasons and consequences, expressed by first and third year medical students of the University of Buenos Aires.

Method: Retrospective, cross-sectional, and analytically designed study, based on a voluntary and anonymous survey with eight deceptive behaviours. The students had to answer questions on consideration, severity, observation and execution, three reasons and three consequences of deceptive behaviours. The differences between the responses were established using χ2 (p≤.05).

Results: More than 70% of the behaviours were considered deceptive by most of the students. “To copy during a test”, “to present someone else's work as belonging to oneself”, and “to present a false note for being absent” were considered in a higher percentage by third year students. “Using web data without citation” was not considered deceptive by 44.4% of first year students. “To copy during a test” was considered the most severe behaviour. Most students observed these behaviours, but a small percentage performed them. The actions considered deceptive in a lower percentage were observed and performed more. The main reasons for both groups were lack of time/over demanding schedule and lack of study/laziness. The main consequences were a negative feeling towards oneself and lack of knowledge.

Conclusions: These results were similar to those found in literature, although they changed slightly for each behaviour. These discrepancies could be justified by the fact that medical education prioritises biological areas more than ethical. The different response between the groups could be because first year students carry attitudes from secondary school, and third year students would have a more reflective attitude in these matters, due to their greater academic experience.