Effectiveness of standardized patient simulations in teaching clinical communication skills to dental students

Academic Article


  • The aim of this study was to investigate dental students’ long-term retention of clinical communication skills learned in a second-year standardized patient simulation at one U.S. dental school. Retention was measured by students’ performance with an actual patient during their fourth year. The high-fidelity simulation exercise focused on clinical communication skills took place during the spring term of the students’ second year. The effect of the simulation was measured by comparing the fourth-year clinical performance of two groups: those who had participated in the simulation (intervention group; Class of 2016) and those who had not (no intervention/control group; Class of 2015). In the no intervention group, all 47 students participated; in the intervention group, 58 of 59 students participated. Both instructor assessments and students’ self-assessments were used to evaluate the effectiveness of key patient interaction principles as well as comprehensive presentation of multiple treatment options. The results showed that students in the intervention group more frequently included cost during their treatment option presentation than did students in the no intervention group. The instructor ratings showed that the intervention group included all key treatment option components except duration more frequently than did the no intervention group. However, the simulation experience did not result in significantly more effective student-patient clinical communication on any of the items measured. This study presents limited evidence of the effectiveness of a standardized patient simulation to improve dental students’ long-term clinical communication skills with respect to thorough presentation of treatment options to a patient.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • McKenzie CT; Tilashalski KR; Peterson DT; White ML
  • Start Page

  • 1179
  • End Page

  • 1186
  • Volume

  • 81
  • Issue

  • 10