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Open Access Research article

Communication training for advanced medical students improves information recall of medical laypersons in simulated informed consent talks – a randomized controlled trial

Anne Werner1, Friederike Holderried2, Norbert Schäffeler1, Peter Weyrich3, Reimer Riessen4, Stephan Zipfel1 and Nora Celebi3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department for Internal Medicine VI, Psychosomatic Medicine, University Hospital of Tübingen, Osianderstr. 5, 72076, Tübingen, Germany

2 Office of the Dean of student affairs, Medical Faculty, University of Tübingen, Geisweg 5, 72076, Tübingen, Germany

3 Department for Internal Medicine IV, Endocrinology, Diabetology, Nephrology, Angiology and Clinical Chemistry, University Hospital of Tübingen, Otfried-Müller-Str. 10, 72076, Tübingen, Germany

4 Medical Intensive Care Unit, University Hospital of Tübingen, Otfried-Müller-Str. 10, 72076, Tübingen, Germany

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BMC Medical Education 2013, 13:15  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-15

Published: 1 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Informed consent talks are mandatory before invasive interventions. However, the patients’ information recall has been shown to be rather poor. We investigated, whether medical laypersons recalled more information items from a simulated informed consent talk after advanced medical students participated in a communication training aiming to reduce a layperson’s cognitive load.

Methods

Using a randomized, controlled, prospective cross-over-design, 30 5th and 6th year medical students were randomized into two groups. One group received communication training, followed by a comparison intervention (early intervention group, EI); the other group first received the comparison intervention and then communication training (late intervention group, LI). Before and after the interventions, the 30 medical students performed simulated informed consent talks with 30 blinded medical laypersons using a standardized set of information. We then recorded the number of information items the medical laypersons recalled.

Results

After the communication training both groups of medical laypersons recalled significantly more information items (EI: 41 ± 9% vs. 23 ± 9%, p < .0001, LI 49 ± 10% vs. 35 ± 6%, p < .0001). After the comparison intervention the improvement was modest and significant only in the LI (EI: 42 ± 9% vs. 40 ± 9%, p = .41, LI 35 ± 6% vs. 29 ± 9%, p = .016).

Conclusion

Short communication training for advanced medical students improves information recall of medical laypersons in simulated informed consent talks.

Keywords:
Medical student; Medical layperson; Informed consent talk; Communication training; Cognitive load