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Session Overview
5 slides Poster2: Measurement of social skills with standardized patients (Siebenbrock, Jan; Kollet, Johanna; Browne, Julia; Geldmacher, Thomas; Sensmeier, Janina; Ahrens, Helmut; Marschall, Bernhard; Ohlenburg, Hendrik)
Friday, 02/Sept/2022:
1:30pm - 2:15pm

Location: CHUV auditorium Auguste Tissot

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Measurement of social skills with standardized patients

Jan Siebenbrock, Johanna Kollet, Julia Browne, Thomas Geldmacher, Janina Sensmeier, Helmut Ahrens, Bernhard Marschall, Hendrik Ohlenburg

IfAS (Institut für Ausbildung und Studienangelegenheiten) Münster, Germany


Social skills are crucial for the future working life of physicians. In the behavior-based taxonomy of medical social skills, three core aspects of medical social skills were identified: Agency, Communion and Interpersonal Resilience. [1] At the Institut für Ausbildung und Studienangelegenheiten (IfAS) in Münster, a procedure has been developed to test these three core aspects by using standardized patients [SPs].


In order to be able to measure social skills, a separate setting was created for each of these core aspects. Using a scale (from 1 to 6), observers were able to assess how much competence was demonstrated by the students in each scene. To measure Agency, students were confronted with SPs in which they had to assert themselves (e.g., a counseling session in which the SP constantly digresses from the topic). To measure Communion, students encountered SPs in need of help (e.g., after an accident or after receiving bad news). To measure Interpersonal Resilience students had to encounter SPs who put them under pressure (e.g., a strict professor). [1]


In order to successfully measure social skills using SPs, the setting must be very clearly tailored to the relevant core aspects of the competence. It is easy for a setting to trigger both interpersonal resilience and agency, for example.

In addition, in order to establish comparability between students, the setting must be very standardized and simulated. The use of SPs in this context must be valid, practicable and reliable. [2]

Nevertheless, the liveliness of the scene must not be lost, since especially social competences show themselves in interpersonal relationships, which are always shaped on both sides and thus can never be predicted.

A three-step approach is recommended for this balancing act in the training of SPs:

1. clear role description with emotional standardization and clear starting point;

2. training video with exemplary SP;

3. joint rehearsal with all SPs of the same role (model learning [3]).


Social competencies can be measured with the help of SPs. For this, very clear settings have to be developed and the SPs have to be trained in a standardized way without losing the liveliness of the scene.


[1] Breil, S. M., Amelung, D., Oberst, S., Rollinger, T., Ahrens, H., Garbe, A., Kadmon, M., Marschall, B., Back, M. D., & Peters, H. (2021). Physicians’ social skills –

conceptualization, taxonomy, and behavioral assessment. [Manuscript submitted for publication].

[2] Brem, B., Steinweg, B.: Prüfungen mit SPs. In: Peters, T./Thrien, C., editors. Simulationspatienten. Handbuch für die Aus- und Weiterbildung in medizinischen und Gesundheitsberufen. Bern: Hogrefe Verlag. 2018. S.

[3] Lauber, H.: Ausbildung von SPs für die medizinische Lehre. In: Peters, T./Thrien, C., editors. Simulationspatienten. Handbuch für die Aus- und Weiterbildung in medizinischen und Gesundheitsberufen. Bern: Hogrefe Verlag. 2018. S. 47-62

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