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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 10-16

Simulated patient and role play methodologies for communication skills training in an undergraduate medical program: Randomized, crossover trial

1 UNSW Medicine, UNSW Australia, Sydney, Australia
2 Department of Ophthalmology, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, Australia
3 Intensive Care Medicine, Lismore Base Hospital, Lismore, Australia
4 Department of Orthopaedics, The Canberra Hospital, Canberra, Australia
5 Department of Medical, Wagga Wagga Rural Referral Hospital, Wagga Wagga, Australia
6 Department of Emergency, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, Australia
7 Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, Australia
8 Department of Gastroenterology, Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital, Bankstown, Australia
9 Department of Palliative Care, Coffs Harbour Hospital, Coffs Harbour, Australia
10 Department of Rehabilitation and Aged Care, Hornsby Ku-Ring-Gai Hospital, Hornsby, Australia
11 Department of General Medicine, Port Macquarie Base Hospital, Port Macquarie, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Silas Taylor
UNSW Medicine, UNSW Australia, Sydney, NSW 2052
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.239040

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Background: Educators utilize real patients, simulated patients (SP), and student role play (RP) in communication skills training (CST) in medical curricula. The chosen modality may depend more on resource availability than educational stage and student needs. In this study, we set out to determine whether an inexpensive volunteer SP program offered an educational advantage compared to RP for CST in preclinical medical students. Methods: Students and volunteer SPs participated in interactions across two courses. Students allocated to SP interactions in one course participated in RP in the other course and vice versa. Audio recordings of interactions were made, and these were rated against criterion descriptors in a modified Calgary–Cambridge Referenced Observation Guide. Results: Independent t-test scores comparing ratings of RP and SP groups revealed no significant differences between methodologies. Discussion: This study demonstrates that volunteer SPs are not superior to RP, when used in CST targeted at preclinical students. This finding is consistent with existing literature, yet we suggest that it is imperative to consider the broader purpose of CST and the needs of stakeholders. Consequently, it may be beneficial to use mixed methods of CST in medical programs.

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