Ethics. Research. Community.

Finding effective strategies for teaching ethics: a comparison trial of two interventions.

Academic medicine : journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
PURPOSE: To compare the effects of two teaching methods (written case analyses and written case analyses with group discussion) on students' recognition and assessment of common ethical dilemmas. METHOD: In 1999-2000, all third-year students at the University of Washington School of Medicine on a pediatrics clinical rotation participated in the study. Eighty students were based in Seattle and 66 were in community sites in a five-state area. All students received three scenarios with written instructions for ethical analysis, submitted written answers, and received written feedback from a single evaluator. The Seattle students also participated in an hour-long, one-time discussion group about the cases. All students submitted a final case analysis. Four components of the case analyses were evaluated: ability to identify ethical issues, see multiple viewpoints, formulate an action plan, and justify their actions. One investigator evaluated a masked subset of the case analyses from both groups to assess whether teaching method affected the students' ability to recognize and assess ethical problems. RESULTS: Forty-eight of 146 available case analysis sets (each set included three initial analyses plus one final analysis) were masked and coded. Performances on the initial analyses were similar in both groups (p >.2-.8). The discussion group had a higher absolute increase in total score (p =.017) and in ability to formulate a plan (p =.013) on the final case analysis. Performances otherwise remained largely similar. CONCLUSIONS: Students' recognition and assessment of ethical issues in pediatrics improves following a case-based exercise with structured feedback. Group discussion may optimize the learning experience and increase students' satisfaction.
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