Medical students can teach communication skills - a mixed methods study of cross-year peer tutoring.

BMC Medical Education

PubMedID: 28619020

Nomura O, Onishi H, Kato H. Medical students can teach communication skills - a mixed methods study of cross-year peer tutoring. BMC Med Educ. 2017;17(1):103.
BACKGROUND
Cross-year peer tutoring (CYPT) of medical students is recognized as an effective learning tool. The aim of this study is to investigate the non-inferiority of the objective outcome of medical interview training with CYPT compared with the results of faculty-led training (FLT), and to explore qualitatively the educational benefits of CYPT.

METHODS
We conducted a convergent mixed methods study including a randomized controlled non-inferiority trial and two focus groups. For the CYPT group, teaching was led by six student tutors from year 5. In the FLT group, students were taught by six physicians. Focus groups for student learners (four tutees) and student teachers (six tutors) were conducted following the training session.

RESULTS
One hundred sixteen students agreed to participate. The OSCE scores of the CYPT group and FLT group were 91.4 and 91.2, respectively. The difference in the mean score was 0.2 with a 95% CI of -1.8 to 2.2 within the predetermined non-inferiority margin of 3.0. By analyzing the focus groups, we extracted 13 subordinate concepts and formed three categories including 'Benefits of CYPT', 'Reflections of tutees and tutors' and 'Comparison with faculty', which affected the interactions among tutees, tutors, and faculty.

CONCLUSIONS
CYPT is effective for teaching communication skills to medical students and for enhancing reflective learning among both tutors and tutees.