Using 3D Virtual Standardized Patients to Teach Motivational Interviewing

Margaret Czart


The term motivational interviewing focuses on patients’ struggles to make changes for which they may not be ready, willing, and able. The foundation of this approach is the transtheoretical model, which posits that behavior change involves several stages and that not everyone is equally ready to change. To address the lack of training and self-confidence, medical schools have implemented motivational interviewing training courses within the curriculum, utilizing a problem-based learning approach. As computers have become more popular in education, motivational training has moved into the e-learning, computer-assisted, learning environment.
A pilot study was designed and implemented at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine, in an effort to explore the feasibility of using virtual standardized patients in the Second Life, one of the first virtual worlds available to teach motivational interviewing. This study’s guiding research questions were: Is it feasible to use virtual standardized patients to enhance motivational interviewing training? Could the Second Life virtual world platform, combined with the traditional face-to face training materials, improve motivational interviewing techniques?
The results of this study present both positive and negative outcomes. The standardized patient and principal investigator assessment data added to our understanding of the feasibility of using virtual worlds to teach motivational interviewing as an alternate to the webpage virtual standardized patient. 

This pilot study suggests a positive outcome in the use of the Second Life platform as an educational tool.

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