Evaluation of patient partners in the teaching of the musculoskeletal examination

Malcolm D. Smith, Sue Henry-Edwards, E. Michael Shanahan, Michael J. Ahern

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    34 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective. To evaluate student preferences and examination outcomes of 2 different methods of teaching musculoskeletal (MSK) medicine examination techniques. Methods. Year 2 students in a 4 year graduate medical school were randomized to 3 teaching groups: students in Group 1 were taught by rheumatology fellows, Group 2 by patient partners, while group 3 were randomly allocated to either patient partner (3A) or rheumatology trainee (3B) teaching. All students were debriefed at the end of each teaching block of 4 weeks for feedback on their teaching experience using a standardized questionnaire. In addition, at the end of the academic year, all students sat an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) in clinical skills that contained a rheumatology station. The effect of method of teaching on students' performance in the rheumatology station was analyzed. Results. Eighty medical students participated in the study. Overall, there was no difference in student ratings of either mode of teaching, although the students reported that patient partner teaching gave more opportunity to practice MSK examination skills and also provided greater feedback to the student. Students reported a preference for rheumatology trainee teaching because they believed the teaching would be more relevant to the content of the examination. There was no statistically significant difference in the performance of the students in the OSCE rheumatology station in regard to the mode of teaching they had received prior to the examination. Conclusion. Patient partner teaching is as effective a method of teaching clinical skills in MSK medicine as a traditional resident based form of teaching, with student benefits from patient feedback and greater 'hands-on' opportunities. The assessment process should incorporate patient partners to assess the unique aspects of patient educator based teaching of MSK examination techniques.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1533-1537
    Number of pages5
    JournalJournal of Rheumatology
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • Medical student teaching
    • Musculoskeletal examination
    • Patient focused


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