Send to

Choose Destination
Med Educ. 2000 Apr;34(4):285-91.

Comparison of methods for teaching clinical skills in assessing and managing drug-seeking patients.

Author information

Department of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.



New medical graduates lack clinical skills in assessing and managing patients seeking drugs of dependence. This study compares the effectiveness of three different clinical skills training methods, with similar content, which were developed to teach these skills to senior medical students.


A preliminary survey indicated that common problems seen by primary care practitioners included both new and previously known patients seeking either benzodiazepines or opiates. The common content of the teaching was determined from this survey. A didactic small group tutorial (DT), a video-based tutorial (VBT) using professional actors, and a computer-aided instruction package using digitized video (CAI) were developed with this common content, and trialled with undergraduate medical students over 2 years in a parallel-group design. Outcome was assessed by student feedback, performance on a case-based written examination and by a structured evaluation of interviews with simulated patients requesting drugs. Comparison was also made between methods on the basis of knowledge tests.


No difference was seen in written examination and simulated patient outcomes between the three groups. However, the VBT was thought by the students to be preferable to other methods. The estimated development costs of CAI were higher, but total costs over a 6-year period were lower than for the DT and VBT. The results suggest that clinical skills can be taught equally effectively through several different methods. Collaboration between institutions in the development of widely applicable CAI tools should be an efficient and economical mode of teaching with a wide range of applications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center