COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

Testing an empirically derived mental health training model featuring small groups, distributed practice and patient discussion

Rachael C Murrihy, Mitchell K Byrne, Craig J Gonsalvez
Medical Education 2009, 43 (2): 140-5
19161484

OBJECTIVES: Internationally, family doctors seeking to enhance their skills in evidence-based mental health treatment are attending brief training workshops, despite clear evidence in the literature that short-term, massed formats are not likely to improve skills in this complex area. Reviews of the educational literature suggest that an optimal model of training would incorporate distributed practice techniques; repeated practice over a lengthy time period, small-group interactive learning, mentoring relationships, skills-based training and an ongoing discussion of actual patients. This study investigates the potential role of group-based training incorporating multiple aspects of good pedagogy for training doctors in basic competencies in brief cognitive behaviour therapy (BCBT).

METHODS: Six groups of family doctors (n = 32) completed eight 2-hour sessions of BCBT group training over a 6-month period. A baseline control design was utilised with pre- and post-training measures of doctors' BCBT skills, knowledge and engagement in BCBT treatment.

RESULTS: Family doctors' knowledge, skills in and actual use of BCBT with patients improved significantly over the course of training compared with the control period.

CONCLUSIONS: This research demonstrates preliminary support for the efficacy of an empirically derived group training model for family doctors. Brief CBT group-based training could prove to be an effective and viable model for future doctor training.

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