The challenge of empathy: A pilot study of the use of standardized patients to teach introductory psychopathology to medical students

Lois Elaine Krahn, J. Michael Bostwick, Bruce Sutor, Mark W. Olsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


This pilot study compares standardized and actual psychiatric patients used to teach introductory psychopathology. In a blinded manner, students and psychiatric faculty interviewed both types of patients, using a small group format. Before and after the course, students and faculty completed a questionnaire about expectations and effectiveness. Students were divided in their opinions of standardized patients but generally preferred actual patients. Faculty were initially noncommittal, but after the course they strongly preferred actual patients. Although standardized patients offer some advantages over actual patients, limitations included difficulty developing empathy. Standardized patients could potentially be trained to convey emotions realistically, but further study of this is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-30
Number of pages5
JournalAcademic Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Education

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