Background: Undocumented migration to developed countries poses practical concerns, as migrants are not medically insured. This cross-sectional study aims to appraise the attitudes of Israeli medical students towards the uninsured migrant population.
Methods: Participants from five medical schools in Israel completed anonymous questionnaires in Hebrew, based on the "Medical Students’ Attitudes Toward the Underserved" (MSATU), which assessed students' attitudes regarding the professional responsibility and societal expectations towards the migrants. It also evaluated students' views of the migrants as eligible for expensive medical procedures.
Results: A total of 891 students completed the survey with a median age of 28 years. The majority were Jews (N=816, 91.6%) and singles (N=681, 68.5%). Participants in the pre-clinical years were likely to be female and unmarried compared to those in clinical training. They also demonstrated higher scores on professional responsibilities and societal expectations than students in clinical training, but no significant differences were found in their views on expensive medical services. Students of minorities (non-Jews and migrants) scored higher on professional responsibilities and societal expectations. The scores for professional responsibilities and societal expectations decreased as students progressed in their medical training (Spearman coefficient p=0.04 and p=0.01, respectively). This trend was more apparent in males rather than females.
Conclusion: MSATU scores declined as students progressed through medical school, with females maintaining more favorable attitudes than males. Medical schools should attempt to maintain the enthusiasm and idealism that students possess as they enter medical training and provide clinical experience with migrant populations that allows for cross-cultural communication.