Development of Video and Simulation-Based Communication Skills Learning: Responding to Emotions




Nguyen, Trung Tan

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Content Notes


PROBLEM: Responding appropriately to patients’ emotions and concerns is vital for excellent patient care and outcomes. There is a lack of training in this area, with the need to educate healthcare providers about how to appropriately respond to emotions. While communication skills training programs exist for undergraduate medical education, medical students often feel unprepared in responding to patients’ emotions INTERVENTION: A 90-minute small group exercise was developed for second-year pre-clinical students at a large United States medical school in Texas. The exercise consisted of faculty-facilitated small group discussion of two video examples of a patient encounter, comparing clinician responses to patient emotions. The exercise utilized a framework for identifying skills and patient impact of verbal expressions of empathy to different patient emotions. CONTEXT: This curriculum sought to demonstrate examples of strong patient emotions for preclerkship students, and introduce a framework of concrete communication skills that can positively impact a clinical encounter. Data was collected by questionnaires delivered immediately pre-session and post-session, as well as 3 months post-session. Survey questions assessed student perception of effectiveness of the exercise, student-reported preparedness and feeling equipped to perform various communication skills during clinical visits. Paired t-tests were performed and data analyzed for qualitative responses. OUTCOMES: The process evaluation yielded a positive subjective learner response to the exercise which was sustained at 3-month follow-up. The students (N=161 paired for the immediate pre- and post-survey) reported significant increases in knowledge and preparedness to recognize and appropriately respond to different patients’ emotions (P= 0.001). Qualitative data were also captured in the surveys. LESSONS LEARNED: This video-based small group discussion of skills to express verbal empathy is perceived by pre-clinical medical students to be beneficial, and to improve their knowledge and preparedness for using empathic skills in the future. There is a need for further investigation whether this type of communication skills training results in behavior change and is sustained long-term.

General Notes

The general metadata -- e.g., title, author, abstract, subject headings, etc. -- is publicly available, but access to the submitted files is restricted to UT Southwestern campus access and/or authorized UT Southwestern users.

Table of Contents


Related URI