Enhancing patient education skills of physiotherapy students in a clinical education setting
Introduction: Effective patient education is a fundamental aspect of healthcare provision, which requires the use of effective clinical and communication skills. Simulation approaches using group discussion and feedback are effective for clinical and communication skills training in healthcare students. The purpose of this study was to investigate such an approach in improving physiotherapy students’ patient education skills and self-efficacy in a clinical education setting.
Methods: A simulated learning activity consisting of a case study and structured role play with feedback and discussion was developed for use during the first week of final‑year musculoskeletal physiotherapy clinical placements. Student self-efficacy in relation to patient education was evaluated before and after, and compared using non-parametric statistical tests. Student performance of patient education was contrasted to that of previous cohorts. Student and clinical educator perception of the intervention was also evaluated with descriptive statistics and qualitative framework analysis.
Results: Twenty-four students took part in the study. Student self-efficacy significantly improved following the intervention (p < 0.01). Although performance scores were not significantly higher than those of previous cohorts, all students within the current study passed the assessment of physiotherapy practice, which contrasts to previous cohorts. The intervention was well received by students, and themes relating to importance of patient education, improved quality and increased engagement in patient education were generated from clinical educator and student qualitative data.
Conclusion: Within physiotherapy clinical placement settings, a small group learning intervention using case studies, simulation, facilitated feedback and discussion provides an effective and well-received approach to patient education skills training.
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