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April 13, 1984

Cynicism Among Medical Students

Author Affiliations

Pennsylvania Hospital Philadelphia

JAMA. 1984;251(14):1835. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340380021012

To the Editor.—  Kopelman's1 article on cynicism in medical students was thoughtful and thought provoking. But it contains a significant internal contradiction. She makes the point that research on medical students' attitudes reveals a cynicism about medical values that grows progressively within—and from—the medical school experience. In explicating the causes of this, she focuses on the students' reactions to the attitude research itself, and she exposes the grave flaws in that body of work. Among these, she points correctly to the weaknesses in the instruments used to measure purported cynicism, indicating that there is unsatisfactory evidence of their responsibility and validity. Even by the most direct test of simple face validity, their inadequacies are patent. But if this is so, as I heartily agree, what basis do we have in the first place for saying that medical students do become cynical?Before we look too hard at what we