ABSTRACT: Motivational interviewing workshop in a virtual world: learning as avatars
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
Limited research has been done to understand outcomes of continuing medical education offered in three-dimensional, immersive virtual worlds. We studied a case of a virtual world workshop on motivational interviewing (MI) applied to smoking cessation counseling and its educational impact.
To facilitate content development and evaluation, we specified desired MI competencies. The workshop consisted of three sessions, which included lectures, practice with standardized patients, and chat interactions. Data were collected from 13 primary care physicians and residents through workshop observation, and pre- and 3-month post-workshop telephone/Skype interviews and interactions with standardized patients. Interactions with standardized patients were assessed by an expert using a validated MI tool and by standardized patients using a tool developed for this study. For 11 participants who attended two or three sessions, we conducted paired-samples t tests comparing mean differences between the competency scores before and after the workshop.
Expert assessment showed significant improvement on six of seven MI competencies. All participants reported learning new knowledge and skills, and nine described incorporating new learning into their clinical practice. Practicing MI with standardized patients and/or observing others’ practice appeared to be the most helpful workshop component.
The evaluated workshop had positive impact on participants’ competencies and practice as related to MI applied to smoking cessation counseling. Our findings support further exploration of three-dimensional virtual worlds as learning environments for continuing medical education.