Publication Details

Khanlari, S., Rutherford, A., Tyler, S. & Hayes, J. (2017). Can simulated patients authentically portray mental health scenarios for medical student education?. ANZAHPE 2017 Conference (pp. 1-1). Australia: Australian & New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators.


Introduction/background: Our institution uses a large cohort of volunteer simulated patients (SPs) to play roles in history taking and examination clinical skills lessons. Traditionally however, the mental health history taking lessons delivered to year 2 students recruited paid "expert SPs" who were working in mental health services to the roles. Aim/objectives: To ensure the program remained sustainable, we introduced and evaluated a training program to upskill selected volunteer SPs to play mental health scenarios. Discussion: A training workshop covering the portrayal of mental health issues and how to provide more complex and specific feedback to students was developed and run across 2 campuses with the participation of 38 SPs. The following year all of these SPs elected to participate in the mental health history taking lesson. The acceptability of this initiative for SPs and medical students was evaluated. A number of issues were encountered such as SPs finding it difficult to gauge how severely to portray symptoms. The following year we introduced new content to the training and again evaluated the program. Trained SPs reported increased confidence from the training and a greater sense of role satisfaction from playing the more challenging scenarios. Issues/questions for exploration or ideas for discussion: Are volunteer SPs with no particular experience in mental health able to authentically and safely portray patients with mental illness for the purposes of medical student history taking lessons?