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Patient Educ Couns. 2008 Jan;70(1):3-9. Epub 2007 Nov 26.

Assessing validity of standardized patient ratings of medical students' communication behavior using the Roter interaction analysis system.

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  • 1Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, United States.



The primary objective of this study is to examine concurrent validity of standardized patient (SP) ratings of second year medical students' communication skills with the Roter interaction analysis system (RIAS).


We designed An Integrated Medical Encounter (AIME), to teach second year medical students the link between communication and clinical reasoning with emphasis placed on understanding the connection between biomedical and psychosocial aspects of patient care. We randomized 120 students to intervention (AIME) and control groups (non-AIME). Students completed two post-intervention SP encounters which were videotaped and coded using RIAS. SPs used a 30-item checklist to rate students' communication behaviors.


There were no differences between AIME and non-AIME students in age, ethnicity, gender, or college major; however, more AIME students reported prior health professional work. SPs rated AIME students' rapport-building skills higher (mean [S.E.]: 4.1 [0.15] vs. 3.9 [0.15], p=0.05); however, there were no differences in data gathering, patient education/counseling. RIAS demonstrated that AIME students more frequently used rapport-building statements (60.4 [2.7] vs. 52.1 [2.8], p=0.03).


The RIAS confirmed SP ratings of differences in AIME and non-AIME students' rapport-building skills.


Future studies in medical education should further examine the minimum number of SP ratings needed to effectively evaluate communication skills curricula when resources are limited.

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