Background In spite of doctor-patient consultations being a fundamental part of clinical practice, poor communication is cited consistently as a factor in patient complaints.1 Effective consultation skills have been extensively linked to many positive patient outcomes.2 Unfortunately, consultation skills teaching receives little attention in most specialist training. Simulation based learning (SBL) is becoming a widely used methodology in medical education. In this project, we aim to assess the effect of SBL on consultation skills compared to traditional teaching methods.
Methods This is a prospective, randomised-controlled, multi-site trial. Subjects are trainee doctors recruited from within the Yorkshire and Humber Deanery, at Foundation year 2 or Core trainee level. Subjects undergo a video-assessed consultation with a patient presenting with chest pain, either in an outpatient chest pain clinic or on a medical admissions unit. The videos are then assessed using the MAAS-Global and mini-CEX consultation assessment tools. Subjects are then randomised to undergo either traditional teaching, in the form of a tutorial, or a simulation course. Both groups are reassessed in the same way as at the initial assessments.
Results/outcomes The principal outcome will be a comparison of the change in the MAAS-Global assessment score for the 2 groups between baseline and after intervention. Subsidiary outcomes will include comparison of the change in score in the patient-survey for the trainee performance, the consultant-survey and qualitative analysis of the perceptions of trainees and trainers of the utility and acceptability of the training.
Conclusions Results of this study will be used to further inform the debate around the use of simulation training in healthcare. There are still those that are cynical about the potential for transfer into the clinical environment, and a positive result from this study would help to inform that debate.
Kelly M. A practical guide for teachers of communication skills. A summary of current approaches. Radcliffe Publishing, 2007
Kurtz, SM, Silverman J, Draper J. Teaching and learning communication skills in medicine. Radcliffe Pub, 2005
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