Evaluating surgeons' informed decision making skills: Pilot test using a videoconferenced standardised patient

Sarah L. Clever, Dennis H. Novack, Diane G. Cohen, Wendy Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Standardised patients (SPs) are effective in evaluating communication skills, but not every training site may have the resources to develop and maintain SP programmes. Objectives: To test whether videoconferencing technology (VT) could enable an interaction between an SP and an orthopaedic surgeon that would allow the SP to accurately evaluate the surgeon's informed decision making (IDM) skills. We also assessed whether this sort of interaction was acceptable to orthopaedic surgeons as a means of learning IDM skills. Methods: We trained an SP to represent a 75-year-old woman considering hip replacement surgery. Orthopaedic surgeons in Chicago individually consulted with the SP in Philadelphia; each participant could see and hear the other on large television screens. The SP evaluated the surgeons' advice using a 23-item checklist of IDM elements, and gave each surgeon verbal and written feedback on his IDM skills. The surgeons then gave their evaluations of the exercise. Results: Twenty-two surgeons completed the project. The SP was > 80% accurate in classifying 20 of the 23 IDM skills when compared to a clinician rater. Although 12 (55%) of the orthopaedic surgeons felt that some aspects of the technology were distracting, most were pleased with it, and 19 of 22 (86%) would recommend the videoconferenced SP interaction to their colleagues as a means of learning IDM skills. Conclusions: These results suggest that VT allows accurate evaluation of IDM skills in a format that is acceptable to orthopaedic surgeons. Videoconferencing technology may be useful in long-distance SP communication assessment for a variety of learners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1094-1099
Number of pages6
JournalMedical education
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Clinical competence/Black starstandards
  • Communication
  • Decision making
  • Education, medical, continuing/Black starstandards
  • Orthopaedics/Black starstandards
  • Physician-patient relations
  • Telemedicine/methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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