, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1006-1009
Date: 10 Jul 2008

Working with Patients with Alcohol Problems: A Controlled Trial of the Impact of a Rich Media Web Module on Medical Student Performance

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We designed an interactive web module to improve medical student competence in screening and interventions for hazardous drinking. We assessed its impact on performance with a standardized patient (SP) vs. traditional lecture.


First year medical school curriculum.


The web module included pre/posttests, Flash©, and text didactics. It centered on videos of two alcohol cases, each contrasting a novice with an experienced physician interviewer. The learner free-text critiqued each clip then reviewed expert analysis.


First year medical students conveniently assigned to voluntarily complete a web module (N = 82) or lecture (N = 81) were rated by a SP in a later alcohol case. Participation trended higher (82% vs. 72%, p < .07) among web students, with an additional 4 lecture-assigned students crossing to the web module. The web group had higher mean scores on scales of individual components of brief intervention (assessment and decisional balance) and a brief intervention composite score (1–13 pt.; 9 vs. 7.8, p < .02) and self-reported as better prepared for the SP case.


A web module for alcohol use interview skills reached a greater proportion of voluntary learners and was associated with equivalent overall performance scores and higher brief intervention skills scores on a standardized patient encounter.