BACKGROUND: Simulation in healthcare education is common practice. Although this teaching strategy increases patient safety, it is not proven to enhance patient-centred care in practice. Simulated patients are used to teach communication skills and to contribute to the authenticity of the simulation. Could this enhanced authenticity help bridge the gap from simulated practice to practice with live patients where patient-centredness is of crucial importance?
OBJECTIVE: This study’s objective was to determine whether students who acquired a skill in simulation using a simulated patient displayed more patient-centredness in practice than students who used a mannikin.
METHOD: A pre-experimental, post-test-only design with a comparison group was used. The population sample comprised all second-year B.Cur. students (N = 36) at a tertiary institution, who were divided into two cohorts. Cohort 1 was trained to administer an intramuscular injection using a simulated patient with a strap-on injectable device, whilst cohort 2 used an injection model. All participants were assessed on their procedural skills as well as patient-centred care whilst administering an injection to a patient in hospital. A comparison was made of mean scores for patient-centred care rendered by the two cohorts.
RESULTS: Fisher’s exact test revealed that the mean score for patient-centredness of cohort 1 (88%) was significantly higher (p = < 0.001) than that of cohort 2 (74%).
CONCLUSION: Using a simulated patient to teach administration of an intramuscular injection enhanced students’ patient-centredness when performing the procedure in practice. Recommendations include making use of a bigger sample and including a pre-test the next time research of this nature is carried out.