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Comparative use of Tuskegee Syphilis Study Film vs. Text Triggers to Teach Bioethics: The Spheres of Ethics Teaching Using Film (SOETUF) College Study

The overall goal of this study was to determine whether one could demonstrate a measurable difference between the use of film vs. text exposure triggers-using documentary materials about the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Study-in the teaching bioethics to college students using the 36-item ‘Spheres of Ethics Teaching Using Film’ Post-Trigger (SOETUF P-T) Questionnaire, as developed for this study. The results revealed statistically significant differences between the film vs. text groups for the overall Principles of Bioethics Domainof- Interest (7.3±4.4 vs. 5.1±4.4, p <0.05) with the film group scoring higher and for the 23-item ‘Emotional Reaction Domain-of-Interest’ (ER-DOI) with two of the five emotional components identified by a Principle Component Analysis (PCA), the components of being Content and Aroused, but not for the other three identified components of Unhappy, Afraid or Excited. Moreover, the SOETUF P-T Questionnaire items appeared to have reasonable face validity as revealed by the answer patterns to its range of items. In this study, the SOETUF P-T Questionnaire demonstrated that it could detect meaningful differences in student reaction to a film trigger versus a text trigger about the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in the teaching of bioethics to college students.


Ralph V Katz, Amos E Katz, Rueben C Warren, Monnica T Williams, Hala Aqel, Daniil Ilin and Richard McGowan

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