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J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2000 Summer;20(3):164-70.

Evaluation of a problem-based learning workshop using pre- and post-test objective structured clinical examinations and standardized patients.

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  • 1University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.



Osteoporosis is a health care issue in which family physicians play a major role. Although awareness of osteoporosis is high, recent studies suggest that application of recent advances in its treatment to the clinical setting may be low. We have developed a problem-based learning intervention for osteoporosis in which paired rheumatologists and family physicians developed nine problem-solving clinical scenarios. An educational matrix was used to link specific case scenarios with individual teaching objectives, developed via a previous needs assessment. Family physicians participated in the workshop, developing best practice responses to the clinical scenarios with a trained facilitator and content expert.


To assess the impact of this intervention, family physicians participated in a pre- and post-test evaluation, using objective structured clinical examinations and standardized patients. Objective structured clinical examination stations tested knowledge, skills, and judgment relating to osteoporosis with respect to risk factors, use of appropriate investigations including bone mineral densitometry (BMD), strategies for the prevention of osteoporosis (both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic), treatment options for established osteoporosis (bisphosphonates and hormone replacement therapy), and management of recent osteoporosis fracture. Participants were evaluated using a predetermined score generated by their responses to objective structured clinical examinations and standardized patients (max. score = 101). Evaluations were conducted anonymously, although participants had access to their own pre- and post-test results for personal feedback. The impact of the workshop was assessed by comparing pre- and post-test responses by group, by individual, and by station.


Participants demonstrated a significant improvement in their post-workshop scores. Of 40 participants, 26 showed improvement in score (> +10), 13 showed modest change (+1 to +10), and 1 showed a marked decrease (> -10). The greatest improvements were seen in the management of the male osteoporosis patient, determination of risk factors for osteoporosis, and the use and interpretation of bone mineral densitometry. Family physicians reported general satisfaction with the content and format of both the workshop and the evaluation process.


We conclude that this type of problem-based learning intervention workshop results in improved knowledge, skills, and judgment in the management of osteoporosis by family physicians as objectively assessed using a pre- and post-test format including objective structured clinical examinations and standardized patients.

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