Researchers conducted this study to test the feasibility of training laywomen as professional patients to teach doctors to fit the contraceptive diaphragm.

The study design was semi-structured interviews with instructing doctors and questionnaires to DFFP trainees. These documented current teaching practice and the acceptability of professional patients. The Delphi technique was used to establish a curriculum for the professional patients’ training program.

The results show that there is currently a lack of standardization in teaching methods and content concerning diaphragm fitting. All instructing doctors and DFFP trainees involved had experienced difficulties recruiting women for training, and the majority would be happy to work with professional patients. After three rounds of the Delphi procedure, consensus was reached and a curriculum developed. Five women were recruited on to a training programme, and four successfully completed it.

The study concluded that lack of standardization and difficulty recruiting patients are current problems when training doctors to fit diaphragms. Our research shows that the use of professional patients would be acceptable to both DFFP trainees and instructing doctors and that it is possible to recruit and train women for this purpose.