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Using real patients in problem-based learning: Students' comments on the value of using real, as opposed to paper cases, in a problem-based learning module in general practice

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor John Spencer


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Objectives: To explore the feasibility and value of using real patients as trigger material in problem-based learning (PBL). Design: A questionnaire was given to all students participating in a PBL module including a question about 'the added value of using real, as opposed to paper cases', in problem-based learning. Resources used by students and assessment of feasibility were recorded by the course tutors. Setting: A 7-week student-selected problem-based module in general practice in the fourth-year undergraduate medical curriculum, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Subjects: 69 students participating in the module over 2 years. Results: All students valued the use of real patients. A total of 10 categories were identified, all congruent with accepted educational principles for effective adult learning. Real patients stimulated the use of a very wide range of resources and imaginative presentation of what had been learned. Conclusion: Real patients are potent trigger stimuli in problem-based learning. The use of real patients in this general practice-based module presented no organizational or ethical difficulties. Their use should be considered more widely.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Spencer J; Dammers J; Thomas M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Medical Education

Year: 2001

Volume: 35

Issue: 1

Pages: 27-34

Print publication date: 01/01/2001

ISSN (print): 0308-0110

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2923

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2001.00841.x

PubMed id: 11123592


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