Development and Evaluation of an Online Risk Communication Teaching Program for Medical Students
Objective The objective of this study was to develop, pilot, and evaluate an online program for teaching clinical risk communication skills to medical students. Methods A new teaching program, “Risk Talk Online,” was developed and piloted at Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) in 2014–2015. The program’s content was based on “Risk Talk,” a risk communication curriculum previously developed at TUSM, and consisted of didactic and observational instruction using videorecordings of physician-patient discussions illustrating key elements of effective risk communication. The program was implemented among students at the beginning of the second medical school year at TUSM and the end of the first medical school year at WUSM. The program’s feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy in improving subjective and objective risk communication competence were assessed. Results A total of 204 TUSM and 115 WUSM students completed the program. Average time of completion was approximately 40 min, and students rated the program’s educational value very highly. Subjective (self-reported) competence in risk communication significantly improved (P < 0.001), as did objective risk communication competence (P < 0.001) assessed by students’ performance on a skills-oriented knowledge assessment administered before and after completion of the program. Conclusions A new online risk communication teaching program was feasible, acceptable, and efficacious in improving subjective and objective risk communication competence among first- and second-year students at two medical schools. More research is needed to refine the program and determine optimal strategies for integrating risk communication training in medical education.