Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

The use of standardised patients in interprofessional education curriculum delivery: A causal-comparative study of student feedback

Vernon Curran, Adam Reid, Shari Fitzgerald, Olga Heath, Paula Mullins-Richards


Introduction: Interprofessional education (IPE) has emerged as an essential component of training for students in the health and social care professions. Standardised patients (SPs) have also been developed as an important simulation-based learning modality in health and social care curricula due to the authenticity and realism of the patient or client encounter that may be replicated. Reports evaluating the use of SPs across an IPE curriculum in the health and social care professions are limited.

Methods: This evaluation study used a causal-comparative research design to examine the effect of SPs as an instructional method in an IPE curriculum. Evaluative outcomes of the educational experiences of students attending 37 IPE learning modules offered between Autumn 2006 and Winter 2012 were analysed.

Results: A total of 6,561 students from seven health and social care professions rated the usefulness of the instructional methods used in each module through post- module surveys. Students consistently rated SPs as significantly more useful than other instructional methods, and overall mean satisfaction scores were significantly higher for IPE modules that incorporated SPs.

Conclusions: This study’s findings demonstrate the positive effect that SPs can have on the learning experiences of health and social care students. By Using SPs in IPE curricula, the authenticity of classroom-based interprofessional learning experiences can be enhanced and lead to more positive IPE learning outcomes. 


interprofessional education; standardised patients; causal-comparative evaluation

Full Text:



Barr, H. (2002). Interprofessional education: Today, yesterday and tomorrow. London, England: Learning and Teaching Support Network for Health Sciences and Practice.

Bornais, J. A. K., Raiger, J. E., Krahn, R. E., & El-Masri, M. M. (2012). Evaluating undergraduate nursing students’ learning using standardized patients. Journal of Professional Nursing, 28(5), 291–296.

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Durguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32–42.

Cordova, D. I., & Lepper, M. R. (1996). Intrinsic motivation and the process of learning: Beneficial effects of contextualization, personalization, and choice. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(4), 715–730.

Curran, V. R., & Sharpe, D. (2007). A framework for integrating interprofessional education curriculum in the health sciences. Health Education, 20(3), 93–121.

Curran, V. R., Sharpe, D., Forristall, J., & Flynn, K. (2008). Student satisfaction and perceptions of small group process in facilitating case-based interprofessional learning. Medical Teacher, 30(4), 431–433.

Fraenkel, J. R., & Wallen, N. E. (2003). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Freeth, D., Hammick, M., Reeves, S., Koppel, I., & Barr, H. (2005). Effective interprofessional education: Development, delivery and evaluation. Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing.

Gay, L. R. (1996). Educational research: Competencies for analysis and application (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

Hammick, M., Freeth, D., Koppel, I., Reeves, S., & Barr, H. (2007). A best evidence systematic review of interprofessional education. Medical Teacher, 29(8), 735–751.

Holmboe, E. S., & Hawkins, R. E. (Eds.) (2008). A practical guide to the evaluation of clinical competence. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby-Elsevier.

Jonassen, D., Mayes, T., & McAleese, R. (1993). A manifesto for a constructivist approach to uses of technology in higher education. In T. M. Duffy, J. Lowyck, & D. H. Jonassen (Eds.), Designing environments for constructivist learning. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag.

Latter, S., Rycroft-Malone, J., Yerrell, P., & Shaw, D. (2000). Evaluating educational preparation for a health education role in practice: The case of medication education. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 32(5), 1282–1290.

McGuinness, T. M. (2011). Simulation in psychiatric nursing education. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 49(5), 9–10.

Miller, C., Freeman, M., & Ross, N. (2001). Interprofessional practice in health and social care: Challenging the shared learning agenda. London, England: Arnold.

Oandasan, I., & Reeves, S. (2005). Key elements for interprofessional education. Part 1: The learner, the educator and the learning context. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 19(Suppl. 1), S21–S38.

Onda, E. L. (2012). Situated cognition: Its relationship to simulation in nursing education. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 8, e273–e280.

Parsell, G., & Bligh, J. (1998). Interprofessional learning. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 74(868), 89–95.

Ragan, R. E., Virtue, D. W., & Chi, S. J. (2013). An assessment program using standardized clients to determine student readiness for clinical practice. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 77, Article 14.

Schenker, J. D., & Rumrill, Jr., P. D. (2004). Causal-comparative research designs. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 21(3), 117–121.

Stein, D. (1998). Situated learning in adult education. (ERIC Digest No. 195) Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED418250)

Wamsley, M., Staves, J., Kroon, L., Topp, K., Hossaini, M., Newlin, B., . . . O’Brien, B. (2012). The impact of an interprofessional standardized patient exercise on attitudes toward working in interprofessional teams. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 26, 28–35.

Watt-Watson, J., Hunter, J., Pennefather, P., Librach, L., Raman-Wilms, L., Schreiber, M., . . . Salter, M. (2004). An integrated undergraduate pain curriculum, based on IASP curricula, for six health science faculties. Pain, 110, 140–148.

Weaver, M., & Erby, L. (2012). Standardized patients: A promising tool for health education and health promotion. Health Promotion Practice, 13(2), 169–174.

Westberg, S. M., Adams, J., Thiede, K., Stratton, T. P., & Bumgardner, M. A. (2006). Innovations in teaching: An interprofessional activity using standardized patients. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 70(2), 34.

World Health Organization (WHO). (2010). Framework for action on interprofessional education and collaborative practice. Geneva, Switzerland: Author. Retrieved from

Yoo, M. S., & Yoo, I. Y. (2003). The effectiveness of standardized patients as a teaching method for nursing fundamentals. Journal of Nursing Education, 42(10), 444–448.



  • There are currently no refbacks.