Published: 2017-01-05

Transition in pharmacology: From theoretical knowledge of medicines to practice-oriented approach. Do role-plays help?

Lavanya SH, Kalpana L, Veena RM, Bharath Kumar VD


Background: Pharmacology, a subject criticized by medicos as ‘dry and volatile’ is in a stage of constant reformation. Traditional teaching-learning in pharmacology has focused more on theoretical knowledge of medicines with little emphasis on the art and science of communicating the same to patients in actual practice. Role-play is one novel method which attracts learners to gain knowledge through concrete experience, there-by bringing in a behavioural change that persists eventually. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of role-play as an educational tool in teaching patient education and counseling skills regarding medications prescription for ischemic heart disease (IHD).

Methods: A quantitative, randomized, interventional study with pre & post-OSPE using a pre-validated checklist (modified-Calgary-Cambridge) was conducted in 84, II-MBBS students. The scores obtained in intervention group (Lecture-IHD counseling + Role-play) were compared with the control group (Lecture) using Wilcoxon test for paired-data and Mann-Whitney test for inter-group comparisons.

Results: Paired-data analysis showed an increase in post-test mean scores in both control and intervention groups following training. However, inter-group comparisons revealed statistically significant improvement in 8 of the 13 parameters in intervention group. Students in intervention group stressed more on pharmacological aspects of medications, along with emergency measures and need for follow-up. Hence it can be said that role-plays played a significant role in improving communication skills regarding medications prescription.

Conclusions: Medical communication skills course for II-MBBS students may enable them to demonstrate better patient-doctor interactions. Role-plays are an effective tool to acquire technical and behavioural skills to deal with real-life situations through simulation.


Communication skills, Prescription, Pharmacology, Role-play, Teaching tool

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