Study: Online training modules help residents screen patients for substance abuse

Residency Program Insider, October 17, 2014

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Communication is key for identifying patients with substance use issues and online learning modules may be the best way to provide this communication training, according to a study from the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University College of Medicine.  
For the study, a group of internal and family medicine residents completed an online learning module that focused on improving communication skills during patient screenings and during counseling sessions with patients with substance use disorders. The residents then participated in a faculty-led debriefing. The study found that residents felt more confident about their ability to screen for and counsel patients struggling with substance abuse.
“The study findings with residents are promising because we saw that a relatively brief intervention yielded big changes in their attitudes and communication skills,” said Paul N. Lanken, MD, associate dean for Professionalism and Humanism and professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Penn in a press release from Penn Medicine. “Based on these results, we would expect improved medical care of patients with substance use disorders, but further studies are needed to look at practice-based and patient-centered outcomes in connection with this type of educational intervention.”
Source: Penn Medicine

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