Narrative Approach to Goals of Care Discussions: Adapting the 3-Act Model Training to an Online Format

Benjamin Roberts, Ambereen K. Mehta, Michelle McWhirter, Sydney Morss Dy, Scott M. Wright, David Shih Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: The three-Act Model, a narrative approach to goals of care (GOC) discussions centered on patients’ individual stories, has proven to be effective as measured by objective skill improvement among medical trainees. This study describes the adaptation of the in-person curriculum to a streamlined, online format, in the setting of the Covid19 pandemic. We hypothesized that high levels of skill proficiency and learner satisfaction observed in previous in-person cohorts would be sustained amongst trainees in the online setting. Objective: Our primary aim was to assess the skills proficiency of a cohort of internal medicine interns undergoing online training for GOC discussions with the three-Act Model. Our secondary goal was to assess learners’ satisfaction with the prerecorded didactic video and online role plays. Methods: Our team used REDCap for the data collection, and as the user-facing hub for learners to access didactic video content and for submitting surveys. We used Zoom to host synchronous discussions and role-play sessions. Trainers used the previously validated Goals of Care Assessment Tool (GCAT) to objectively rate intern proficiency in two role plays each. Results: Twenty-one internal medicine interns began the training; 20 completed the training and were assessed using the GCAT. All but one intern who completed the training (19 of 20, 95%) achieved proficiency in leading a GOC discussion as measured objectively using the GCAT. Learner satisfaction was high: 1) 100% of respondents recommended the training to others as a “good” (26.7%) or “outstanding” experience (73.3%); 2) 93.3% were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” using a online, distance-learning format for the prerecorded didactic component; 3) 80% were “satisfied” or “very satisfied” using an online, distance-learning format for the role-play component; and 4) 93.3% were content with the number of role plays. The amount of time dedicated to this training decreased compared to prior years when done in person (six hours) – to four hours and 40 minutes for learners and under four hours for trainers. Conclusion: After completing the adapted online three-Act Model training, nearly all learners were scored to be proficient in GOC communication skills and reported high satisfaction with the online curriculum. Achieving high quality more efficiently represents genuine educational value. Further, these online teaching results show that the three-Act Model training can be delivered to geographically distanced learners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-201
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Covid19
  • Goals of care
  • narrative medicine
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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