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1.  Educational potential of a virtual patient system for caring for traumatized patients in primary care 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:110.
Background
Virtual Patients (VPs) have been used in undergraduate healthcare education for many years. This project is focused on using VPs for training professionals to care for highly vulnerable patient populations. The aim of the study was to evaluate if Refugee Trauma VPs was perceived as an effective and engaging learning tool by primary care professionals (PCPs) in a Primary Health Care Centre (PHC).
Methods
A VP system was designed to create realistic and engaging VP cases for Refugee Trauma for training refugee patient interview, use of established trauma and mental health instruments as well as to give feedback to the learners. The patient interview section was based on video clips with a Bosnian actor with a trauma story and mental health problems. The video clips were recorded in Bosnian language to further increase the realism, but also subtitled in English. The system was evaluated by 11 volunteering primary health clinicians at the Lynn Community Health Centre, Lynn, Massachusetts, USA. The participants were invited to provide insights/feedback about the system’s usefulness and educational value. A mixed methodological approach was used, generating both quantitative and qualitative data.
Results
Self-reported dimensions of clinical care, pre and post questionnaire questions on the PCPs clinical worldview, motivation to use the VP, and IT Proficiency. Construct items used in these questionnaires had previously demonstrated high face and construct validity. The participants ranked the mental status examination more positively after the simulation exercise compared to before the simulation. Follow up interviews supported the results.
Conclusions
Even though virtual clinical encounters are quite a new paradigm in PHC, the participants in the present study considered our VP case to be a relevant and promising educational tool. Next phase of our project will be a RCT study including comparison with specially prepared paper-cases and determinative input on improving clinical diagnosis and treatment of the traumatized refugee patient.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-110
PMCID: PMC3765390  PMID: 23957962
Primary health care; Virtual patients; Virtual encounters; Refugees; PTSD; Depression
2.  Does individual learning styles influence the choice to use a web-based ECG learning programme in a blended learning setting? 
Background
The compressed curriculum in modern knowledge-intensive medicine demands useful tools to achieve approved learning aims in a limited space of time. Web-based learning can be used in different ways to enhance learning. Little is however known regarding its optimal utilisation. Our aim was to investigate if the individual learning styles of medical students influence the choice to use a web-based ECG learning programme in a blended learning setting.
Methods
The programme, with three types of modules (learning content, self-assessment questions and interactive ECG interpretation training), was offered on a voluntary basis during a face to face ECG learning course for undergraduate medical students. The Index of Learning Styles (ILS) and a general questionnaire including questions about computer and Internet usage, preferred future speciality and prior experience of E-learning were used to explore different factors related to the choice of using the programme or not.
Results
93 (76%) out of 123 students answered the ILS instrument and 91 the general questionnaire. 55 students (59%) were defined as users of the web-based ECG-interpretation programme. Cronbach's alpha was analysed with coefficients above 0.7 in all of the four dimensions of ILS. There were no significant differences with regard to learning styles, as assessed by ILS, between the user and non-user groups; Active/Reflective; Visual/Verbal; Sensing/Intuitive; and Sequential/Global (p = 0.56-0.96). Neither did gender, prior experience of E-learning or preference for future speciality differ between groups.
Conclusion
Among medical students, neither learning styles according to ILS, nor a number of other characteristics seem to influence the choice to use a web-based ECG programme. This finding was consistent also when the usage of the different modules in the programme were considered. Thus, the findings suggest that web-based learning may attract a broad variety of medical students.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-5
PMCID: PMC3277483  PMID: 22248183
3.  Student perception of two different simulation techniques in oral and maxillofacial surgery undergraduate training 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:82.
Background
Yearly surveys among the undergraduate students in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Karolinska Institutet have conveyed a wish for increased clinical training, and in particular, in surgical removal of mandibular third molars. Due to lack of resources, this kind of clinical supervision has so far not been possible to implement. One possible solution to this problem might be to introduce simulation into the curriculum. The purpose of this study was to investigate undergraduate students' perception of two different simulation methods for practicing clinical reasoning skills and technical skills in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
Methods
Forty-seven students participating in the oral and maxillofacial surgery course at Karolinska Institutet during their final year were included. Three different oral surgery patient cases were created in a Virtual Patient (VP) Simulation system (Web-SP) and used for training clinical reasoning. A mandibular third molar surgery simulator with tactile feedback, providing hands on training in the bone removal and tooth sectioning in third molar surgery, was also tested. A seminar was performed using the combination of these two simulators where students' perception of the two different simulation methods was assessed by means of a questionnaire.
Results
The response rate was 91.5% (43/47). The students were positive to the VP cases, although they rated their possible improvement of clinical reasoning skills as moderate. The students' perception of improved technical skills after training in the mandibular third molar surgery simulator was rated high. The majority of the students agreed that both simulation techniques should be included in the curriculum and strongly agreed that it was a good idea to use the two simulators in concert. The importance of feedback from the senior experts during simulator training was emphasised.
Conclusions
The two tested simulation methods were well accepted and most students agreed that the future curriculum would benefit from permanent inclusion of these exercises, especially when used in combination. The results also stress the importance of teaching technical skills and clinical reasoning in concert.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-11-82
PMCID: PMC3209444  PMID: 21992604
4.  The application of Item Response Theory on a teaching strategy profile questionnaire 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:14.
Background
In medical education research, various questionnaires are often used to study possible relationships between strategies and approaches to teaching and learning and the outcome of these. However, judging the applicability of such questionnaires or the interpretation of the results is not trivial.
Methods
As a way to develop teacher thinking, teaching strategy profiles were calculated for teachers in a research intensive department at Karolinska Institutet. This study compares the sum score, that was inherent in the questionnaire used, with an Item Response Theory (IRT) approach. Three teaching dimensions were investigated and the intended sum scores were investigated by IRT analysis.
Results
Agreements as well as important differences were found. The use of the sum score seemed to agree reasonably with an IRT approach for two of the dimensions, while the third dimension could not be identified neither by a the sum score, nor by an IRT approach, as the items included showed conflicting messages.
Conclusions
This study emphasizes the possibilities to gain better insight and more relevant interpretation of a questionnaire by use of IRT. A sum score approach should not be taken for granted. Its use has to be thoroughly evaluated.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-10-14
PMCID: PMC2830224  PMID: 20146802
5.  Evaluation of a web-based ECG-interpretation programme for undergraduate medical students 
Background
Most clinicians and teachers agree that knowledge about ECG is of importance in the medical curriculum. Students at Karolinska Institutet have asked for more training in ECG-interpretation during their undergraduate studies. Clinical tutors, however, have difficulties in meeting these demands due to shortage of time. Thus, alternative ways to learn and practice ECG-interpretation are needed. Education offered via the Internet is readily available, geographically independent and flexible. Furthermore, the quality of education may increase and become more effective through a superior educational approach, improved visualization and interactivity.
Methods
A Web-based comprehensive ECG-interpretation programme has been evaluated. Medical students from the sixth semester were given an optional opportunity to access the programme from the start of their course. Usage logs and an initial evaluation survey were obtained from each student. A diagnostic test was performed in order to assess the effect on skills in ECG interpretation. Students from the corresponding course, at another teaching hospital and without access to the ECG-programme but with conventional teaching of ECG served as a control group.
Results
20 of the 32 students in the intervention group had tested the programme after 2 months. On a five-graded scale (1- bad to 5 – very good) they ranked the utility of a web-based programme for this purpose as 4.1 and the quality of the programme software as 3.9. At the diagnostic test (maximal points 16) by the end of the 5-month course at the 6th semester the mean result for the students in the intervention group was 9.7 compared with 8.1 for the control group (p = 0.03).
Conclusion
Students ranked the Web-based ECG-interpretation programme as a useful instrument to learn ECG. Furthermore, Internet-delivered education may be more effective than traditional teaching methods due to greater immediacy, improved visualisation and interactivity.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-8-25
PMCID: PMC2394519  PMID: 18430256
6.  Evaluation of an interactive case simulation system in dermatology and venereology for medical students 
Background
Most of the many computer resources used in clinical teaching of dermatology and venereology for medical undergraduates are information-oriented and focus mostly on finding a "correct" multiple-choice alternative or free-text answer. We wanted to create an interactive computer program, which facilitates not only factual recall but also clinical reasoning.
Methods
Through continuous interaction with students, a new computerised interactive case simulation system, NUDOV, was developed. It is based on authentic cases and contains images of real patients, actors and healthcare providers. The student selects a patient and proposes questions for medical history, examines the skin, and suggests investigations, diagnosis, differential diagnoses and further management. Feedback is given by comparing the user's own suggestions with those of a specialist. In addition, a log file of the student's actions is recorded. The program includes a large number of images, video clips and Internet links. It was evaluated with a student questionnaire and by randomising medical students to conventional teaching (n = 85) or conventional teaching plus NUDOV (n = 31) and comparing the results of the two groups in a final written examination.
Results
The questionnaire showed that 90% of the NUDOV students stated that the program facilitated their learning to a large/very large extent, and 71% reported that extensive working with authentic computerised cases made it easier to understand and learn about diseases and their management. The layout, user-friendliness and feedback concept were judged as good/very good by 87%, 97%, and 100%, respectively. Log files revealed that the students, in general, worked with each case for 60–90 min. However, the intervention group did not score significantly better than the control group in the written examination.
Conclusion
We created a computerised case simulation program allowing students to manage patients in a non-linear format supporting the clinical reasoning process. The student gets feedback through comparison with a specialist, eliminating the need for external scoring or correction. The model also permits discussion of case processing, since all transactions are stored in a log file. The program was highly appreciated by the students, but did not significantly improve their performance in the written final examination.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-40
PMCID: PMC1590009  PMID: 16907972

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