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Adv Med Educ Pract. 2014 May 7;5:133-9. doi: 10.2147/AMEP.S56176. eCollection 2014.

Impact of a medical student alcohol intervention workshop using recovering alcoholics as simulated patients.

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Department of Family Medicine, Medical Center of Central Georgia and Mercer University School of Medicine, Macon, GA.
School of Social Work, University of Texas-Austin, Austin, TX.
Department of Surgery, University of Alabama-Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.



Alcohol screening and brief intervention (SBI) reduces drinking among at-risk drinkers. Lack of training and negative attitudes represents a barrier to SBI performance. This study evaluates the impact of a medical student workshop using recovering alcoholics in simulated patient interviews to teach SBI skills.


Third-year students (n=94) were surveyed before and after a 3-hour alcohol SBI workshop regarding their perceived importance and confidence in performing eleven SBI behaviors. Students were also asked to list factors increasing and decreasing motivation to conduct SBI. Students completing off-campus rotations (n=71) served as controls, completing surveys during the same time period but without attending the workshop.


Analysis of variance found a significant interaction effect between the students participating in the workshop and control students on both importance scores [F(2,174)=3.34] and confidence scores [F(2,174)=9.13], indicating higher scores for the workshop students at the follow-up time periods. Commonly listed motivators for performing SBI included clinical experience with alcohol misuse and the impact of alcohol on health and relationships. High relapse rates and patient reactions to questions about alcohol use decreased the motivation to perform SBI.


SBI workshops that include recovering alcoholics as simulated patients can produce long-term improvements in students' perceived importance and confidence in performing SBI.


alcohol; brief intervention; medical students; screening

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