Simulation has been identified as a key training modality to enhance interprofessional care for patients with co-occurring physical and mental illnesses. Fidelity is an important instructional design consideration for interprofessional simulation; however, research examining the contribution of physical, psychological, and sociological fidelity in achieving learning outcomes remains limited. This qualitative study explored the relationship between fidelity and learning from the perspective of interprofessional simulation course participants.
Semistructured interviews were conducted with participants from the Interprofessional Simulations of Patient Experiences Across the Care Continuum - Child and Youth course. Consistent with grounded theory, data collection and analysis proceeded in an iterative fashion and emergent themes were identified by the research team through a process of constant comparative analysis.
Data saturation was reached after 10 interviews. High psychological fidelity allowed participants to engage in the simulation scenarios in ways that were congruent with their professional roles, which supported individual practice change. Tasks that were too closely aligned with their clinical experiences sometimes, however, limited new learning opportunities. Selective manipulations of sociological fidelity seemed to support learning outcomes related to understanding and appreciating the roles and responsibilities of other health professionals. Physical fidelity was less essential.
Psychological and sociological fidelity were perceived by participants as being most critical to learning in interprofessional mental health simulation. Improving our understanding of how simulation works in this context is important to effectively direct the efforts of learners, instructors, and designers toward maximizing the benefit of simulation-based learning in a cost-efficient manner.