Medical Students' Learning Process During Simulated Patient Consultations in Psychiatry: A Grounded Theory Study : Simulation in Healthcare

Journal Logo

Empirical Investigations

Medical Students' Learning Process During Simulated Patient Consultations in Psychiatry: A Grounded Theory Study

Piot, Marie-Aude MD, PhD; Pham-Scottez, Alexandra MD, PhD; Bazziconi, Pierre-François MD; Lebailly, Thibaut MD; Le Moal, Valérie MD; Kalindjian, Nina MD; Sulimovic, Leslie MD; Duriez, Philibert MD, PhD; Lombardi, Laura MD; Barbotin, Bénédicte MD; Vinckier, Fabien MD, PhD; Burn, Carine Layat PhD; Rethans, Jan-Joost MD, PhD, Pr; Tesnière, Antoine MD, PhD, Pr; Falissard, Bruno MD, PhD, Pr

Author Information
Simulation in Healthcare: The Journal of the Society for Simulation in Healthcare 18(3):p 155-162, June 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/SIH.0000000000000671



Recent changes in psychiatric care and teaching, which limit patient contact for medical students, can be partially overcome by simulation-based education in psychiatry. The authors explored the learning processes of medical students during meetings with simulated patients to inform efforts to improve this teaching.


After recruiting 81 undergraduate medical students from 3 universities to participate in 6 simulation sessions in psychiatry, the authors purposively sampled 21 students to participate in face-to-face individual semistructured interviews analyzed with constructivist grounded theory. Integration of this analysis with those of the simulation consultation videotapes and the debriefing audiotapes improved the triangulation process.


Three organizational themes were identified: developing and structuring representations of psychiatry; integrating subjectivity into learning; and refining and developing psychiatric praxis. Given the broad and in-depth learning that occurs, simulation in psychiatry should respect content validity of SP portrayals to ensure appropriate learning. However, psychological fidelity seems to provide adequate realism while retaining feasibility. Psychiatric simulation also requires the encouragement of student self-confidence and well-being. Within a reflective framework, simulation triggers cognitive reframing, which can alleviate fears and prejudice toward people with mental disorders.


The holistic interactive learning process involved in simulation can address the complexity of the personal and interpersonal features needed in psychiatry.

Copyright © 2022 Society for Simulation in Healthcare

You can read the full text of this article if you:

Access through Ovid