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Table 1 Characteristics of 23 studies of educational interventions concerning history-taking skills

From: Teaching history taking to medical students: a systematic review

Source Study design Participants Educational intervention Assessment technique and measurement tool Improvement in history-taking ability reported? MERSQI Score
Instructional (traditional) approaches
Focus scripts
Peltier et al. 2007 [44] Randomized, two-group post-test n = 60 clinical medical students Focus Scripts Students’ write-ups were scored by a blinded rater Yes 12,5
Videotape review: Communication benchmarks
Losh et al. 2005 [45] Single-group post-test n = 180 preclinical medical students One 2-hour teaching session including an introduction of communication benchmarks and a video demonstration of short scenarios contrasting “ok” with “better” communication skills Course evaluation questionnaire Yes 6,5
Online course
Wiecha et al. 2003 [46] Single-group, pre-post comparison n = 10 preclinical medical students Four weeks online elective course including video demonstrations, text modules, a moderated, asynchronous discussion board and written personal feedback Questionnaire on self-reported knowledge; qualitative analysis of interviews, focus groups and student course postings. Yes 11
Experiental approaches
Small group workshops including role-play and feedback
Mukohara et al. 2004 [41] Non-randomized, two-group post-test n = 105 clinical medical students Two-day, small group seminar, including role-play, videotape review, feedback and discussion OSCE station; communication skills rated by two trained observers Yes in one skill, tendency notable in 15 other skills 11,5
Evans et al. 1993 [27] Non-randomized, two-group post-test n = 106 preclinical medical students Programme of lectures and skills workshops Assessment of videotaped interviews with real patients by two independent, trained raters using the HTRS Yes 11,5
Small group workshops including simulated patients
von Lengerke et al. 2011 [51] Single-group, pre-post comparison n = 267 preclinical medical students Seven 4-hour sessions in small groups, training program with lecture, self-study, (videotaped) role-play and SP interviews Self-evaluation questionnaire on communication skills, course evaluation Yes 8,5
Ozcakar et al. 2009 [42] Randomized, two-group, pre-post comparison n = 52 preclinical medical students Two videotaped SP interviews and (visual/verbal) feedback by trainer Self-assessment, assessment by trained observers using a checklist Yes 13,5
Hulsman et al. 2009 [49] Single-group post-test n = 331 preclinical medical students Seven small group sessions including SP interviews, videotape review, written self-evaluations, peer-feedback and discussion Rating of students’ reflections by trained observers; evaluation questionnaire Yes 9
Nestel& Kidd 2003 [50] Randomized, two-group post-test n = 40 preclinical medical students One 3-hour session, including SP interviews, feedback and videotape review. Small groups facilitated either by peer tutors or by medical teachers Written course evaluation questionnaire; self-assessment; rating by SPs and trained assessors Yes 13
Yedidia et al. 2003 [52] Randomized, two-group, pre-post comparison n = 293 clinical medical students Demonstration of interviewing skills, SP interviews, feedback and self-reflection OSCE station, communication skills rated by SPs Yes 13,5
Fortin et al. 2002 [7] Single-group post-test n = 127 preclinical medical students Two half-day workshops including a mini lecture, demonstration by faculty, role-play, SP interviews and discussion Course evaluation questionnaire; free-text on what students learned from the workshop Yes 7
Utting et al. 2000 [43] Randomized, single-blinded, three-group post-test comparison n = 111 clinical medical students Two 4-week basic skills courses including small group activities, discussion, role-play and SP interviews compared with a 10-week course including mainly lectures and instructions Evaluation of videotaped SP interviews by two independent observers using IGS and CSS No 12,5
Eoaskoon et al. 1996 [48] Non-randomized, three-group post-test n = 115 clinical medical students Theoretical sessions, then division into three groups: (1) SP interview and feedback, (2) role-play in front of the group and feedback, (3) role play within the group and feedback Course evaluation, assessment of students’ interviews by tutors Yes 8
Battles et al. 1992 [47] Two-group post-test n = 358 preclinical medical students Small group sessions one-half day every 2 weeks using lectures, SP interviews, feedback and discussion OSCE using brief SP encounters and writing stations Yes 8
Kraan et al. 1990 [24] Modified cross-sectional study n = 563 preclinical and clinical medical students from five different academic years Six-year undergraduate curriculum teaching communication skills using small group sessions including SP interviews, videotape review, feedback and discussion Assessment of live SP interviews by trained observers using the MAAS Yes 10,5
Using virtual patients
Vash et al. 2007 [53] Randomized, two-group post-test n = 48 clinical medical students Fourteen 1-hour sessions in a computer lab working through virtual patients in small groups Written examination Yes 11
Small group workshops including real patients
Fischer et al. 2005 [54] Single-group, pre-post comparison n = 154 clinical medical students 9 weekly 2-hour small group sessions including role-plays, SP interviews and videotaped interviews with real patients, each followed by feedback Pre and post self-assessment by students using a 1–6 point scale; OSCE stations where skills were rated by SP and trained observer Yes 10,5
Windish et al. 2005 [10] Randomized, two-group pre-post comparison n = 121 preclinical medical students Six weekly 3-hour small group sessions including brief lecture, short video highlighting certain skills and role-play with feedback Assessment of student performance by trained SPs using a checklist; course evaluation Yes 13,5
Evans et al. 1996 [26] Randomized, two-group, pre-post comparison n = 60 clinical medical students Training programme including lectures, comprehensive notes and workshops with role-plays, videotaping of real patients and SPs and discussions in small groups Rating of videotaped SP interviews by trained, blinded observers using the MIRS Yes 12,5
Novack et al. 1992 [9] Single-group, pre-post comparison n = 60 preclinical medical students Two initial lecture demonstrations, then 12 weekly 2-hour sessions in small groups including role-plays, interviews with patients and discussions. Videotaped SP interviews rated by blind reviewers using ISIE; Brief questionnaire for students’ self-evaluation of progress Yes 14
Creative approaches
Improvisational theatre
Shochet et al. 2013 [56] Single-group post-test n = 38 preclinical medical students Four weekly 2-hour sessions, improvisational theatre Online course evaluation, qualitative analysis of students’ comments Yes 6,5
Watson 2011 [55] Single-group post-test n = 116 preclinical medical students Five weekly 2-hour sessions in small groups, improvisational theatre Qualitative analysis of course evaluations, self-report questionnaire on acquired skills Yes 7
Lego® simulation
Harding& D’Eon 2001 [57] Single-group, pre-post comparison n = 57 preclinical medical students Two-hour session including interactive lecture and a Lego simulation Survey, information recall, qualitative analysis of focus groups Yes 7
  1. SP simulated patient, OSCE Objective Structured Clinical Examination, IGS Information Gathering Scale, CSS Communication Skills Scale, MIRS Medical Interview Rating Scale, HTRS History-Taking Rating Scale, ISIE International Analysis System for Interview Evaluation, MAAS Maastricht History-Taking and Advice Checklist