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Logo of bmcmeduBioMed Centralsearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleBMC Medical Education
BMC Med Educ. 2004; 4: 14.
Published online Sep 20, 2004. doi:  10.1186/1472-6920-4-14
PMCID: PMC524164
Consumers as tutors – legitimate teachers?
Cathy Owencorresponding author1,2,3 and Rebecca E Reay3
1Medical Education Unit, Medical School Australian National University, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
2Frank Fenner Blg 42, Canberra ACT 0200 Australia
3Academic Unit of Psychological Medicine, Blg 15, Level 2 The Canberra Hospital, WODEN ACT 2605 Australia
corresponding authorCorresponding author.
Cathy Owen: cathy.owen/at/; Rebecca E Reay: rebecca.reay/at/
Received June 2, 2004; Accepted September 20, 2004.
The aim of this study was to research the feasibility of training mental health consumers as tutors for 4th year medical students in psychiatry.
A partnership between a consumer network and an academic unit in Psychological Medicine was formed to jointly develop a training package for consumer tutors and a curriculum in interviewing skills for medical students. Student attitudes to mental health consumers were measured pre and post the program. All tutorial evaluation data was analysed using univariate statistics. Both tutors and students evaluated the teaching program using a 4 point rating scale. The mean scores for teaching and content for both students and tutors were compared using an independent samples t-test.
Consumer tutors were successfully trained and accredited as tutors and able to sustain delivery of tutorials over a 4 year period. The study found that whilst the medical students started with positive attitudes towards consumers prior to the program, there was a general trend towards improved attitude across all measures. Other outcomes for tutors and students (both positive and negative) are described.
Consumer tutors along with professional tutors have a place in the education of medical students, are an untapped resource and deliver largely positive outcomes for students and themselves. Further possible developments are described.
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