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Feasibility of using standardized patient methodology to develop and assess research assistant competence in dementia research

Steele AB, Kunik ME, Cully JA, Davila JA, Morgan RO, Snow AL. Feasibility of using standardized patient methodology to develop and assess research assistant competence in dementia research. Dementia (London, England). 2009 May 1; 8(2):317-324.

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Use of standardized patients in training research staff has been limited. This study evaluated its feasibility. An expert panel created six scenarios using standardized patients to portray dyads of dementia patients/caregivers, plus instructions for actors. Three research assistants trained in administering the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale portion of the Structured Interview for the Clinical Assessment of Depression in Dementia administered it to each dyad. An expert panel member telemonitored each session and scored pairs using the same instrument. Sessions were videotaped, watched and scored by research assistants. Their scores were compared with expert ratings, and deviation scores were calculated, with mean item deviation scores compared using analysis of variance. Interclass correlations and analysis of variance revealed no differences between research-assistant ratings and their ratings compared with a standard, supporting the feasibility of using standardized patients to train research assistants to perform complex clinical Conclusion: These data suggest that symptomatic depression and anxiety are underrecognized in heart failure patients and that mental health screening may be important for receipt of care. Notably, once depression and/or anxiety was documented in the medical record, patients were highly likely to receive mental health treatment.

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