Chronic pain training module improved students’ clinical skills

Medical students who participated in an online training module designed for the evaluation and care of chronic pain had improved clinical skills compared with students who did not participate, according to study results published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Researchers developed a module that presented a standardized case of an elderly back pain patient with brief video clips that showed her interacting with her clinician, as well as a multiple choice pre-test, interactive questions and a multiple choice post-test. The module focused on common errors in clinical exams, expert modeling, interactivity and feedback.

Twenty-seven medical students participated in the module, while 28 did not. Overall, study results showed students who were exposed to the module did significantly better on their objective structured clinical examinations. Among students who were exposed to the module, 93% passed the clinical exam vs. 60% in the non-exposed group.

The module is the first curriculum resource created through the efforts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Pain Consortium’s Centers of Excellence in Pain Education program. The program was developed in response to the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to advance the science, research, care and education of pain.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study that has demonstrated the potential of an online interactive module to improve medical student clinical skills related to evaluating a patient with chronic pain,” Debra K. Weiner, MD, of the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System and University of Pittsburgh, stated in a press release. “While our module focused specifically on an older adult with chronic low back pain, we see this type of educational intervention as a powerful and efficient curriculum tool for a variety of patient scenarios. We look forward to continuing to work with the NIH Pain Consortium in its effort to improve pain care across the county for many different pain conditions that plague patients of all ages.”

Several of these modules will be available to teaching institutions beginning in the fall of 2014. These modules are also accessible by the general public to help them learn how to discuss chronic pain with their doctors.

For more information:

Weiner DK. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014;doi:10.1111/jgs.12871.

Disclosures: The researchers have no relevant financial disclosures.


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