Teaching Breaking Bad News Using Mixed Reality Simulation

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<ul><li><p>ASSOCIATION FOR ACADEMIC SURGERY</p><p>Teaching Breaking Bad News U</p><p>Mark W. Bowyer, M.D.,*,1 Janice L. Hanson, Ph.D.,* EliLisa M. Rawn, M.A., Anne G. Rizzo, M.D.,* E. Matt</p><p>*National Capital Area Medical Simulation Center of the Uniformedand Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment, Vand</p><p>at</p><p>tion. Published by Elsevier Inc.</p><p>it is done, bad news is bad news. What is clear, however,</p><p>their quality of life and well-being [4, 5].</p><p>Journal of Surgical Research 159, 462467 (2010)doi:10.1016/j.jss.2009.04.032The prevailing standard for teaching BBN is to ob-serve a peer or supervisor when he or she must deliverbad news to a patient or the family members [4]. Thison the job - see one do one training is highly variableas many of the teachers themselves have had no for-mal training, with the lesson being only as good as</p><p>1 To whom correspondence and reprint requests should be ad-dressed at Department of Surgery, Uniformed Services University,4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814. E-mail: mbowyer@usuhs.mil.</p><p>0022-4804/09 $36.00 462learned from this study have enhanced our curricularapproach to this vital component of medical educa-</p><p>their relatives) future contact with the health care pro-fessionals involved in their treatment, and may impairSubmitted for public</p><p>Background. Our novel teaching approach in-volved having students actively participate in an un-successful resuscitation of a high fidelity humanpatient simulator with a gun shot wound to the chest,followed immediately by breaking bad news (BBN) toa standardized patient wife (SPW) portrayed by anactress.Methods. Brief education interventions to include</p><p>viewing a brief video on the SPIKES protocol on howto break bad news, a didactic lecture plus a demonstra-tion, or both, was compared to no pretraining by divid-ing 553 students into four groups prior to their BBN tothe SPW. The students then self-assessed their abili-ties, and were also evaluated by the SPW on 21 itemsrelated to appearance, communication skills, and emo-tional affect. All received cross-over training.Results. Groups were equal in prior training</p><p>(2 h)and belief that this was an important skill to belearned. Students rated the experience highly, anddemonstrated marked improvement of self-assessedskills over baseline, which was maintained for the du-ration of the 12-wk clerkship. Additionally, studentswho received any of the above training prior to BBNwere rated superior to those who had no training onseveral communication skills, and the observation ofthe video seemed to offer the most efficient way ofteaching this skill in a time delimited curriculum.Conclusion. This novel approach was well received</p><p>and resulted in improvement over baseline. LessonsPublished by Elsevier Inc.is that the manner in which bad news is broken canhave a profound effect on both the recipient and thegiver. To do it badly may affect all of a patients (andsing Mixed Reality Simulation</p><p>sabeth A. Pimentel, B.A.,* Amy K. Flanagan, M.F.A.,*hew Ritter, M.D.,* and Joseph O. Lopreiato, M.D.*</p><p>Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland;erbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee</p><p>ion January 9, 2009</p><p>Key Words: breaking bad news; SPIKES; simulation;mixed reality; standardized patient.</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>Breaking bad news (BBN) is a reality of medical andsurgical care. Healers in ancient times (Hippocrates)were reluctant to disclose bad news, fearing that the pa-tient would take a turn to the worse. This position waslikewise adopted by the American Medical Associationin its code of medical ethics in 1847 [1]. In modern his-tory, a survey of American physicians in 1961 revealedthat 88% routinely withheld cancer diagnosis or usedeuphemisms such as growth instead of cancer [2].With this historic precedent, it is easy to understandwhy many traditionally trained physicians are un-comfortable with (and avoidant of) the job of BBN topatients and their families. Lack of skills and the reluc-tance to deal with the patients feelings have beenreported as the main causes for physicians avoidanceof this task [3]. Avoidance is understandable as break-ing bad news is one of the more difficult tasks thathealth professionals have to undertake. However well</p></li><li><p>MATERIALS AND METHODS</p><p>As part of the third-year Introduction to Surgery Clerkship curric-ulum, 553 third-year medical students participated in a formativeclinical skills laboratory that introduced them to the skills theyneed on the surgical wards. Each student went through a series ofskills stations in groups of four students. One of these stations wasa trauma resuscitation simulation in which the student team wasasked to treat a patient arriving in the trauma bay of the emergencyroom. The patient in this case was a high-fidelity human simulatormanikin moulaged and programmed to portray a multiple gunshotvictim who sustained wounds across the face and to the left chest.The student teams were then asked to evaluate and treat this patientwho was in extremis with airway compromise and profound shock(Fig. 1). Despite their best efforts the patient died. After completingthis scenario, the students were debriefed by one of the faculty andthen informed that the rest of the surgical team was in the operatingroom with another patient, and that the wife of the recently deceasedpatient was in the waiting room demanding information. The stu-dents were then informed that it was their responsibility to speakindividually with the patients wife and inform her that her husbandhad died. Just prior to meeting the wife, the students received a 10-min orientation in which they discussed with a faculty facilitator</p><p>BOWYER ET AL.: TEACHING BREAKING BAD NEWS USING SIMULATION 463the physician being observed. Because negative rolemodels for giving bad news are common [6], relianceon such techniques may result in communication pat-terns that are less than optimal. Very few individualshave natural talents in this arena, but research showsthat communication is a skill that can be learned, andmany medical schools have embraced principles of ex-periential learning, and are introducing communica-tion skills training into the curriculum [7, 8].</p><p>Much has been written about the skills necessary foreffective delivery of bad news, and consensus guidelineshave been developed [4, 913]. The most widely usedmodel for BBN is the setting, perception, invitation,knowledge, empathy, summary and strategy (SPIKES)model developed by Buckman [14]. Based on review ofcurrent BBN literature, the optimal curriculum shouldinclude a model for effective delivery of bad news (e.g.,SPIKES), opportunities for learners to discuss issues,practice, and feedback. Successful strategies for deliv-ering BBN curricula have included didactic lectures,small-group discussions, role playing with peers andSPs, and teaching in the context of patient care (at ornear the bedside) [9]. All of the interventions describedabove have limitations, but have been highly rated bylearners, and have demonstrated impact on learnerself confidence and, in some cases, learner knowledgeand behaviors.</p><p>The increased availability and use of standardizedpatients (SPs) to teach medical interviewing and phys-ical exam skills has led to a logical extension to teachingother communication skills, such as BBN. TraditionallySPs, virtual reality part task trainers, and manikinshave been used as separate tools in the teaching arma-mentarium. A natural extension of these tools is to com-bine them in ways to maximize their effectiveness. Thishas alternatively been referred to as blended, hybrid, ormixed reality simulation [1517]. Mixed reality simula-tion combines SPs with part task trainers or high fidel-ity human patient simulators. For instance, a traineemay be asked to place a urinary catheter into a model,which appears to be part of an actual person (SP).This adds to the experience by training the student incommunication and sensitivity to the patient while heor she performs the procedural skill. This blended ap-proach has also been used to teach skills such as endos-copy [18, 19]. We have previously described a pilotmixed reality approach to teaching medical studentsto BBN in which the student participates in the unsuc-cessful resuscitation of a high fidelity human patientsimulator with gunshot wounds to the chest, followedimmediately by BBN to a standardized patient wife(SPW) portrayed by an actress [20]. This paper de-scribes our further experience with this mixed realityapproach to teaching medical students to BBN, andcompares different ways of delivering the curriculum.the sequence of events during the resuscitation, and were given addi-tional information about the patient and the events of the shooting.</p><p>Simulated patient wives (SPWs) were recruited from a very large,well-experienced pool of actors who work frequently in our center asSPs. The actresses were provided a script with detailed written de-scription of the scenario and the role that they were to play, and un-derwent training with practice sessions with one of the faculty(MB). The practice sessions as well as initial student session were vid-eotaped and used for ongoing training of the SPWs. Over the course ofthe study, a total of eight actresses were used. At any given time, onlytwo SPWs were in individual rooms with a student and the otherswere able to observe live time via room mounted cameras. This ledto remarkable standardization of the role to be played by the SPW.The SPWs displayed appropriate and realistic emotional responsesto include shock, grief, and anger (Fig. 2). The SPWs were blindedto the students training prior to their encounter and on conclusionevaluated each student using a 5 point Likert scale on 21 items relatedto the students appearance, communication skills, and emotionalaffect.</p><p>In an effort to determine the best curricular approach to teachingthis important skill to medical students, we designed a study to com-pare various pretraining schemes to no training prior to the studentspeaking to the wife. Institutional Review Board approval wasgranted as well as permission from the Dean of Students and the</p><p>FIG. 1. Students participate in an unsuccessful resuscitation ofa penetrating trauma scenario using a high-fidelity human patientsimulator.</p></li><li><p>all had the benefit of the didactic lecture, small group demonstrationand discussion, and the SPIKES method video by the end of the 2d curriculum. On the last day of the 12 wk rotation, each student com-pleted a post-rotational questionnaire (5 point Likert scale) that self-</p><p>hat despite their best efforts her husband has died. The standardized, displays a range of appropriate and realistic emotions to include shock</p><p>JOURNAL OF SURGICAL RESEARCH: VOL. 159, NO. 1, MARCH 2010464Commandant to enroll students in the study. For the purpose of thestudy, all 553 students completed a baseline pre-encounter question-naire about their experiences with and preparedness (5 point Likertscale) for delivering bad news to patients, and were then randomlydivided into four groups as follows:</p><p>Group 1 (n[ 163)</p><p>After participating in the unsuccessful trauma resuscitation andreceiving the orientation as described above, these students weretasked to BBN to the SPW without any pretraining.</p><p>Group 2 (n[ 163)</p><p>These students were similar to group 1 with the exception that theywatched a 15 min video on the SPIKES model (while group 1 wasspeaking to the SPW) just prior to speaking to the patients wife.</p><p>Group 3 (n[ 109)</p><p>On the day prior to the resuscitation/BBN scenario, these studentsreceived a 45 min didactic lecture on BBN that included the SPIKESprotocol. In addition, in small, proctored groups, they observed anexample of a faculty facilitator informing a woman (SP) that shehad miscarried, using the SPIKES protocol with subsequent discus-sion of the event. On the following day, these students spoke to theSPW immediately after the unsuccessful resuscitation event and brieforientation.</p><p>FIG. 2. Students must break the bad news to the patients wife tpatient wife (SPW), who has been trained specifically for this scenario(left) and grief (right) as depicted above.Group 4 (n[ 118)</p><p>These students received the same training as group 3, but in addi-tion watched the 15 min SPIKES method video just prior to speakingto the SPW.</p><p>Though all four groupswere aware that BBN would be covered in thecurriculum by virtue of it being a skill listed on the schedule, none ofthem were aware of the circumstances in which they would have topractice it until just after the unsuccessful resuscitation exercise.</p><p>Immediately after the encounter, all four groups completed a post-encounter questionnaire (5 point Likert scale) that self-assessed theirability to have a plan for, and to break, bad news. In addition, the per-formance of each student while speaking with the SPW was observedreal time by one of the faculty (MB). After the event, a 20 min debrief-ing was performed with the four students in each small group. Eachstudent was evaluated by the SPW they encountered using the 21item checklist previously described. The SPWs were blinded to thestudent groups. All groups received cross-over training, such that2.37 h, with a range of 010 h). It is notable that 97 stu-dents (17.5%) self-reported 0 h of training in spite ofBBN being included in the first year curriculum aspart of communication skills. Of the 377 students whohad completed at least one clinical rotation, 17% (64)had been placed in a situation where they, as a thirdassessed their ability to have a plan for, and to break, bad news. Thesepost-rotational results were self-reported, and there was no directobservation of student performance recorded.</p><p>Statistical analysis of the responses to the pre-encounter, post-encounter, post-rotation questionnaires, and SPW checklist evaluationof the students was undertaken using the Students t-test and one wayrepeated measures ANOVA as appropriate with a set at P &lt; 0.05.</p><p>RESULTS</p><p>The groups were equal in terms of their self-reportedprevious breaking bad news training (mean 2.456FIG. 3. Comparison of the groups pre- and post-encounter, andpost-rotation on self-assessed response (5 point Likert scale) to thequestionDo you currently feel better prepared to break bad news?The graphs represent the mean of the responses at the time intervalsdescribed with P values coinciding to a Student t-test comparison ofthe two means indicated by the enclosed arrows.</p></li><li><p>Comparing the baseline response with that immedi-ately post-encounter on the question do you currentlyfeel prepared to break bad news?groups that had anytraining (as part of the study curriculum) prior to theencounter with the SPW (groups 24) self-rated them-selves more capable than those who had no training(group1). There were no differences in groups 24 onthis question compared with each other (Table 1).</p><p>As seen in Table 2, comparing the baseline responsewith that immediately post-encounter on the ques-tiondo you have a plan for how to break badnews?groups that had exposure to...</p></li></ul>