Does a Behavioral Science Rotation Change Residents’ Self-Assessed Psychosocial Attitudes and Behavior?

Johanna Shapiro, PhD

The purpose of this study was to determine changes in self-assessed resident psychosocial attitudes and behavior after participation in a month-long behavioral science rotation. The four areas specifically investigated were 1) Personal Attributes, 2) Attitudes toward the Practice of Medicine, 3) Basic Psychosocial Skills of interviewing and assessment, and 4) Complex Psychosocial Skills, including counseling and brief psychological intervention. A total of 17 male and 9 female residents participated sequentially in 4-6 consecutive weeks of a specially designed behavioral science curriculum. Results demonstrated change in the positive direction in only two of the four areas, Personal Attributes (p.<.05), and Psychosocial Assessment Skills (p. <000). Findings suggest that certain basic psychosocial assessment skills, especially those in which residents initially evaluate themselves as lacking mastery, can be successfully taught through a structured format. However, overall lack of clinically relevant improvement points to significant limitations in using structured coursework to address issues of values and attitudinal change. Further, such a structured approach does not seem to have been effective in teaching the skills requiring actual patient intervention.

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