Method: Medical, physiotherapy and occupational therapy undergraduate, honours, and postgraduate students (n=107) were randomly allocated to an intervention or control group. Intervention group participants received brief training in shared decision making and evidence communication skills. At baseline and post-intervention, participants performed role-plays which were videorecorded and evaluated by a blinder assessor. The primary outcomes were shared decision making and evidence communication skill, measured using the Observing Patient Involvement (OPTION) scale (range 0-100) and selected items from the Assessing Communication about Evidence and Preferences (ACEPP) Tool (range 0-5). Secondary outcome measures were confidence in these skills (11-item visual analogue scale) and attitudes towards patient-centred communication (Patient Practitioner Orientation Scale (PPOS), which participants completed as a questionnaire.
Result: Post-intervention, intervention group participants scored significantly higher on the OPTION scale (mean between-group difference = 19.2, 95% CI 12.3 to 26.0), ACEPP items (difference = 1.0, 95% CI 0.5 to 1.4), confidence measure (difference = 13.3, 95% CI 7.3 to 19.4), and the Sharing subscale of the PPOS (difference = 0.5, 95% CI 0.2 to 0.7). The between-group difference for the Caring subscale of the PPOS was not significant.
Conclusion: This brief intervention was effective in improving student clinicians’ ability, attitude toward, and confidence in shared decision making facilitation. Following further testing of the longer-term effects of this intervention, incorporation of this brief intervention into evidence-based practice courses and workshops should be considered so that student clinicians graduate with these important skills, which are typically neglected in clinician training, yet crucial to the uptake of shared decision making.