OBJECTIVES--To describe and evaluate the use of medical audit in general practice as an educational activity shared by undergraduate medical students and general practitioners. DESIGN--A descriptive study, evaluated by a questionnaire survey of all participating practices and by results of completed student projects on general practice audit topics during three weeks in the first year of completed projects (1990-1). SETTING--One university department of general practice, collaborating with 18 general practices in contract with Liverpool Family Health Services Authority. PARTICIPANTS--150 medical students, working in groups of two to six, and the general practitioners with whom they worked in 18 practices. MAIN MEASURES--The nature of topics proposed by practices and chosen by the students; methods of audit used by students; reported effects of the audits on the practices; general practitioners' opinions of the projects' usefulness to the practice. RESULTS--The range of topics was wide, and both quantitative and qualitative methods were used. Fifteen of the 18 questionnaires sent out were completed. Six practices reported that the final project had changed substantially after joint planning with the students. Two thirds (10) attached high value to the audits and were making changes in the delivery of care as a result. CONCLUSIONS--Medical audit "project work" by medical undergraduates is an effective tool for motivating students to learn and can lead to change in the clinical setting in which it occurs. IMPLICATIONS--By meeting the learning needs of both undergraduates and established practitioners audit project work has wider application within medical education.
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