Predictors of fitness to practise declarations in UK medical undergraduates

Lewis W. Paton, Paul A. Tiffin, Daniel Smith, Jon S Dowell, Lazaro M Mwandigha

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)
    256 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: Misconduct during medical school predicts subsequent fitness to practise (FtP) events in doctors, but relatively little is known about which factors are associated with such issues during undergraduate education. This study exploits the newly created UK medical education database (UKMED), with the aim of identifying predictors of conduct or health-related issues that could potentially impair FtP. The findings would have implications for policies related to both the selection and support of medical students. Methods: Data were available for 14,379 students obtaining provisional registration with the General Medical Council who started medical school in 2007 and 2008. FtP declarations made by students were available, as were various educational and demographic predictor variables, including self-report 'personality measures' for students who participated in UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) pilot studies. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression models were developed to evaluate the predictors of FtP declarations. Results: Significant univariable predictors (p < 0.05) for conduct-related declarations included male gender, white ethnicity and a non-professional parental background. Male gender (OR 3.07) and higher 'self-esteem' (OR 1.45) were independently associated with an increased risk of a conduct issue. Female gender, a non-professional background, and lower self-reported 'confidence' were, among others, associated with increased odds of a health-related declaration. Only 'confidence' was a significant independent predictor of a health declaration (OR 0.69). Female gender, higher UKCAT score, a non-professional background and lower 'confidence' scores were significant predictors of reported depression, and the latter two variables were independent predictors of declared depression. Conclusions: White ethnicity and UK nationality were associated with increased odds of both conduct and health-related declarations, as were certain personality traits. Students from non-professional backgrounds may be at increased risk of depression and therefore could benefit from targeted support. The small effect sizes observed for the 'personality measures' suggest they would offer little potential benefit for selection, over and above those measures already in use.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number68
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalBMC Medical Education
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2018


    • Fitness to practise
    • Professionalism
    • UK medical undergraduates

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Education


    Dive into the research topics of 'Predictors of fitness to practise declarations in UK medical undergraduates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this