To investigate what Zagreb Medical School students think about general physicians' strike in Croatia, which began in February 2003.
We surveyed 771 students using a specially designed anonymous self-report questionnaire. In addition to questions on demographic data (student's sex, year of studies, average grade, and whether at least one parent was a physician), the questionnaire contained 19 items divided in three subscales, each assessing different aspects of student opinion on the strike. The first subscale, "Support", assessed students' opinion on situations where strike was an acceptable solution (8 items, alpha=0.82). The second one was "Consequences", assessing students' opinion on possible negative consequences of physician's strike (8 items, alpha=0.77). The third subscale, "Croatia", assessed students' opinions about the social and economic status of physicians in Croatia (3 items, alpha=0.73). Items were graded on a 5-point Likert-type scale. Data were analyzed with nonparametric statistics (Mann-Whitney test, Sperman's r), and the significance level was set at p<0.05.
Students scored high on the "Support" subscale (median=34, range=8-40, interquartile range=6;) and were undecided on the "Consequences" subscale (median=23, range=8-40, interquartile range=8), whereas on the "Croatia" subscale, their scores were low, reflecting their poor opinion on the physicians status in Croatia (median=6, range=3-15, interquartile range=4). Students in the clinical years, as well as students whose one or both parents were physicians, scored higher on the "Support" subscale and lower on the "Consequences" and "Croatia" subscales than their colleagues from preclinical years or students whose neither parent was a physician (p<0.001 for all, Mann-Whitney test). No differences were found according to the students' sex, and there was no correlation between average grades and subscale scores.
Zagreb Medical School students supported the physicians' strike and were undecided on its negative consequences. They thought that physicians' status in Croatia was poor. This trend was more obvious among students in clinical years whose one or both parents were physicians.