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Should sports and exercise medicine be taught in the Swiss undergraduate medical curricula? A survey among 1764 Swiss medical students
  1. Justin Carrard1,
  2. Tej Pandya2,
  3. Laurène Niederhauser3,
  4. Denis Infanger1,
  5. Arno Schmidt-Trucksaess1,
  6. Susi Kriemler4
  1. 1Division of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
  2. 2Faculty of Biology Medicine and Health, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  3. 3Faculty of Biology and Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
  4. 4Institute of Epidemiology Biostatistics and Prevention, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Justin Carrard; justin.carrard{at}


Objectives The global lack of sports and exercise medicine (SEM) teaching at medical schools contrasts with evidence that physical activity (PA) plays a major role in preventing and treating non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The aims of this study were to (a) examine whether Swiss medical students are expected to acquire SEM-related skills and knowledge, (b) systematically reviewed SEM teaching in the Swiss undergraduate medical curricula, (c) assess if Swiss medical students are aware of SEM and (d) whether they would like SEM to be included in their curricula.

Methods Two authors independently screened the ‘Principal Relevant Objectives and Framework for Integrative Learning and Education in Switzerland’ (PROFILES) for SEM-related learning objectives and reviewed the curricula. 7708 Swiss medical students were invited to participate in an online survey.

Results 32 SEM-related learning objectives were identified in PROFILES with 20 of them linked to PA. Four of eight Swiss medical schools display limited mandatory SEM teachings. 1764 students participated in the survey (482.0% of the necessary sample size, 22.9% of all Swiss medical students). One in two students knew that SEM includes preventing and treating NCDs. Almost 95% of the participants would like SEM to be included in the curricula.

Conclusion Despite its inclusion in PROFILES and comprehensive evidence that SEM should be taught at medical schools, this is scarcely the case in Switzerland. Swiss medical students have limited understanding of SEM, but are keen to have it included in the curricula. This study highlights the need for more comprehensive SEM teaching at Swiss medical schools.

  • sports and exercise medicine
  • undergraduate
  • teaching
  • online survey
  • medical students
  • Switzerland

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  • Contributors JC, AS-T and SK designed the screening and the systematic review, JC and TP screened PROFILES, JC and LN systematically reviewed the Swiss undergraduate curricula, JC, LN and SK designed the survey and JC conducted the survey. JC, TP, AS-T, DI and SK analysed and interpreted the data. JC, LN and SK drafted the work. TP, DI and AS-T revised it critically from an intellectual point of view. All authors approved the final version of the work and agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

  • Funding The Swiss Society of Sports Medicine paid 394 Swiss Francs for the online Evalandgo account.

  • Competing interests JC is a board member of the Swiss Society of Sports Medicine and the president of its junior section called ‘Students & Junior Doctors SGSM/SSMS’, LN is a board member of ‘Réseau Romand de la Médecine de l’Exercice et du Sport’, TP is a board member of the UK ‘Undergraduate Sports and Exericse Medicine Society’ and SK is a past president of the Swiss Society of Sports Medicine.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval According to the Swiss Federal Act on research involving human beings (section one, article 2), an ethics approval was not necessary to conduct this anonymised survey of opinions containing no person identifiable data.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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