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Med Teach. 2005 Aug;27(5):439-44.

Peer assisted learning in patient-centred interviewing: the impact on student tutors.

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Department of Psychological Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK.


Effective methods for teaching patient-centred interviewing skills are resource intensive. Providing students the opportunity to work in small groups with simulated patients is highly valued and has demonstrable long-term benefits. Expanding cohorts of medical students and diminishing faculty resources led to the implementation of a peer assisted learning (PAL) project in patient-centred interviewing skills. The paper reports the evaluation of a PAL project on student tutors. The methodology included direct and indirect measures of student tutors' skills in facilitation and patient-centred interviewing. The self-report evaluations strongly suggest that participating in a PAL project has substantial benefits for student tutors that included both interviewing and facilitation skills. Objective measures revealed no change in patient-centred interviewing skills after participating in the project. The study concludes that formalizing PAL may tap a valuable resource within the medical school and provide benefits for student tutors. Careful consideration needs to be given to ways in which student tutors are supported before, during and after the project.

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