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Educ Health (Abingdon). 2015 Jan-Apr;28(1):83-6. doi: 10.4103/1357-6283.161922.

Let's 'play' with molecular pharmacology.

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Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.



Understanding concepts of molecular mechanisms of drug action involves sequential visualization of physiological processes and drug effects, a task that can be difficult at an undergraduate level. Role-play is a teaching-learning methodology whereby active participation of students as well as clear visualization of the phenomenon is used to convey complex physiological concepts. However, its use in teaching drug action, a process that demands understanding of a second level of complexity over the physiological process, has not been investigated. We hypothesized that role-play can be an effective and well accepted method for teaching molecular pharmacology.


In an observational study, students were guided to perform a role-play on a selected topic involving drug activity. Students' gain in knowledge was assessed comparing validated pre- and post-test questionnaires as well as class average normalized gain. The acceptance of role-play among undergraduate medical students was evaluated by Likert scale analysis and thematic analysis of their open-ended written responses.


Significant improvement in knowledge (P < 0.001) was noted in the pre- to post-test knowledge scores, while a high gain in class average normalized score was evident. In Likert scale analysis, most students (93%) expressed that role-play was an acceptable way of teaching. In a thematic analysis, themes of both strengths and weaknesses of the session emerged.


Role-play can be effectively utilized while teaching selected topics of molecular pharmacology in undergraduate medical curricula.

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