Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

Web-Based Standardized Patient Encounters Improve Medical Students' Self-Assessment of Adolescent Psychosocial History Skills

Leonard J. Levine,Drexel University College of Medicine,Philadelphia,PA,Christina Cestone,Drexel University College of Medicine,Philadelphia,PA,Nadja G. Peter,Drexel University College of Medicine,Philadelphia,PA


Obtaining a comprehensive adolescent psychosocial history is critical given that morbidity and mortality in adolescents are often related to preventable behaviors.  Standardized patient (SP) encounters are used for teaching history-taking skills to medical students, but infrequently use adolescent patients and can be difficult to implement in schools with a distributed clinical campus model.  However, web-based SP encounters can be particularly useful when students are spread over a wide geographic area.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a web-based SP encounter with an adolescent patient on improving medical student confidence and comfort with communication skills during an adolescent psychosocial history.


Self-assessment of adolescent psychosocial history skills improved from pre- to post-test for all items measured (p < .05).  (See Table.)  In addition, over 90% of clerkship students agreed or strongly agreed that their experience in the WebPatientEncounter module would be beneficial to their ability to work with adolescent patients in the future.  Narrative comments revealed a perceived improvement in: rapport-building, asking open-ended questions, soliciting reasons for risky behaviors, asking more specifically about suicidality, avoiding being judgmental, and planning for closer follow-up.


This study suggests that a web-based Standardized Patient module enhances medical student comfort, confidence, and knowledge with the adolescent psychosocial history and the communication skills needed when screening and counseling adolescents.  The use of a remote video link for the SP encounter can ensure a standardized training experience for students distributed across multiple campuses/geographic areas.