Using a computer simulation for teaching communication skills: A blinded multisite mixed methods randomized controlled trial
Patient Education and Counseling
Breaking bad news; Communication training; Computer simulation; Computer-based conversational agent; Cultural competence; Doctor-patient relationship; Healthcare communication; Human-computer interaction; Intelligent tutoring systems; Inter-professional communication; Intercultural communication; Knowledge transfer; Mindful practice; Mixed methods research; Nonverbal communication; Reflection in action; Reflection on action; Simulation; Training transfer; Virtual Human
© 2016 Elsevier Ireland Ltd Objectives To assess advanced communication skills among second-year medical students exposed either to a computer simulation (MPathic-VR) featuring virtual humans, or to a multimedia computer-based learning module, and to understand each group's experiences and learning preferences. Methods A single-blinded, mixed methods, randomized, multisite trial compared MPathic-VR (N = 210) to computer-based learning (N = 211). Primary outcomes: communication scores during repeat interactions with MPathic-VR's intercultural and interprofessional communication scenarios and scores on a subsequent advanced communication skills objective structured clinical examination (OSCE). Multivariate analysis of variance was used to compare outcomes. Secondary outcomes: student attitude surveys and qualitative assessments of their experiences with MPathic-VR or computer-based learning. Results MPathic-VR-trained students improved their intercultural and interprofessional communication performance between their first and second interactions with each scenario. They also achieved significantly higher composite scores on the OSCE than computer-based learning-trained students. Attitudes and experiences were more positive among students trained with MPathic-VR, who valued its providing immediate feedback, teaching nonverbal communication skills, and preparing them for emotion-charged patient encounters. Conclusions MPathic-VR was effective in training advanced communication skills and in enabling knowledge transfer into a more realistic clinical situation. Practice implications MPathic-VR's virtual human simulation offers an effective and engaging means of advanced communication training.
Kron, F., Fetters, M., Scerbo, M., White, C., Lypson, M., Padilla, M., Gliva-McConvey, G., Belfore, L., West, T., Wallace, A., Guetterman, T., Schleicher, L., Kennedy, R., Mangrulkar, R., Cleary, J., Marsella, S., & Becker, D. (2017). Using a computer simulation for teaching communication skills: A blinded multisite mixed methods randomized controlled trial. Patient Education and Counseling, 100 (4). http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2016.10.024