PURPOSE: An educational intervention that combines an interactive lecture with a role play session using a standardized family member (SFM) has been shown to be effective in improving the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) communication skills of fourth-year medical students. The purpose of this study was to determine if the SFM role play session was necessary for the acquisition of these communication skills.
METHODS: A prospective study of fourth year medical students completing a required four-week critical care medicine (CCM) clerkship was performed from January to May 2005. Each block of students received a lecture on the framework for an initial communication session with a family member of a critically ill patient. Alternating blocks of students also participated in a role play session with an SFM to practice these newly-taught skills. At the end of each clerkship, students' communication skills were assessed using an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) with a different SFM, which was videotaped. Videotapes were scored by an investigator masked to student assignment using a standardized communication assessment tool composed of four domains (introduction, gathering information, imparting information, setting goals and managing expectations).
RESULTS: Fifty-eight students completed the CCM clerkship. Two students' videotapes were not reviewed (1 incompletely recorded, 1 did not give consent). Twenty-eight students (50%) received the lecture alone. There was no significant difference in total communication scores for the lecture group compared to the lecture with role play group (mean total score ± S.D.: 21.3 ± 1.8 versus 21.0 ± 2.2, respectively; p=0.59). There were also no significant differences in scores for any of the four communication domains between the two groups.
CONCLUSION: An interactive lecture alone is as effective as an intervention utilizing role play with an SFM in teaching communication skills to fourth-year medical students.
CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: Fourth-year medical students can be effectively taught family-centered ICU communication skills using an interactive lecture alone. Additional resources for role play sessions may not be necessary.
DISCLOSURE: Lisa Rho, None.