Residents in respiratory medicine are often confronted with breaking bad news to patients. In communication skill training, a recurring question is whether to use standardized or peer-played patients for simulation METHODS: In this prospective single-center crossover study in pulmonology residents, a range of scenarios were performed during training sessions using standardized or peer-played patients. The aim was to assess whether patient type did alter the quality of the role-play. The residents completed post-scenario questionnaires about the role-play of each scenario, but also pre- and post-session questionnaires about their perception of the effectiveness of both modalities, and pre- and post-testing questionnaires about the psychological impact of the training.
Collectively, 4 scenarios were performed 52 times and evaluated 208 times by 52 residents. The use of standardized patients appeared to improve the quality of the patient role (8.8 ± 1.0 vs. 8.3 ± 1.1; p = 0.001) and the general quality of role-play (8.8 ± 1.0 vs. 8.2 ± 0.9; p = 0.008), without affecting the quality of the physician role played by the resident. There were no significant differences between standardized and peer-played patients regarding learning interest or psychological impact. Regardless of the modality, the training sessions did appear to significantly affect the residents’ evaluations of their ability to break bad news to patients (5.7 ± 1.1 vs. 7.4 ± 1.1; p < 10-4).
Our results did not point to a superiority of either of these modalities for learning how to break bad news. Both may be used, depending on the local resources.

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