Investigation of a Brief Teaching Encounter Using Standardized Patients

Teaching Residents Alcohol Screening and Intervention


  • This paper was presented at the 18th SGIM Annual Meeting, San Diego, Calif, May, 1995.

Address correspondence and requests for reprints to Dr. Wilk: UW Health-East Clinic, 5249 East Terrace Dr., Madison, WI 53718 (e-mail:


OBJECTIVE: To investigate a brief teaching intervention using standardized patients (SPs) trained to improve residents' detection and advising of problem drinkers.

DESIGN: Pretest-posttest design assessing resident behavior and skills.

SUBJECTS: Nineteen internal medicine residents in a University Hospital General Internal Medicine Clinic.

INTERVENTION: Announced SPs were interviewed by residents and presented to faculty who provided brief instruction on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines for screening and brief counseling of problem drinkers.

MEASURE: Unannounced SPs assessed resident behavior and skills.

RESULTS: Following the teaching intervention, 2 times more residents screened for alcohol use and nearly 3 times more residents did brief counseling. Residents reported that the intervention was informative and valuable.

CONCLUSION: A single, 1-hour teaching intervention lead to a 2- to 3-fold increase in resident detection and advising of problem drinkers. SPs provide effective teaching encounters and a useful measure of resident behavior.