Evaluation of the symptom-focused health assessment and empathy program for undergraduate nursing students: A randomized controlled trial

Hui-Chen Chen, Jeanette Ignacio, Piyanee Yobas
Nurse Education Today 2020 August 30, 94: 104566

BACKGROUND: Health assessments are a vital competency required of nurses. The more traditional ways of teaching and learning this skill require practice and are often limited by time constraints. With the rise of technology-based platforms, students can supplement their learning health assessment skills through other means, such as videos, that not only teach the steps but also allow them to learn in context.

OBJECTIVES: This study describes how a symptom-focused health assessment and empathy (SHAE) program, which primarily involves the use of a case-based health assessment video, was implemented and evaluated.

DESIGN: The study involved a single-centre, single-blind, parallel randomized controlled trial.

SETTINGS: The study was conducted at a university in Singapore.

PARTICIPANTS: Year one undergraduate nursing students enrolled in the Comprehensive Health Assessment (CHA) module during semester two of the academic year 2018/2019 participated in the study.

METHODS: Participants were randomized into one of the two parallel groups: the experimental group or the waitlisted control (WL) group. The experimental group received the SHAE program in addition to conventional learning methods (e-lectures, lab demonstration, and pair practice). The WL group received only the conventional learning methods. Pre- and post-test measures of the study variables such as knowledge, health assessment skills, confidence, empathy, and intention to learn were conducted. The WL group was given access to the SHAE program after the post-test. Analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) were used to compare the means of the study variables between the intervention and WL groups.

RESULTS: Participants in the intervention group had significantly higher scores on knowledge (p = 0.016), confidence (p = 0.03), and health assessment skills (p = 0.004). No significant differences in intention to learn and empathy between the two groups were found.

CONCLUSION: The use of a case-based video has the potential to be a valuable method of teaching health assessments in context to nursing students. The SHAE program has shown beneficial effects on students' knowledge, health assessment skills, and confidence. However, there was no effect on students' intentions to learn and their empathy. Further refinements of the program will need to focus on improving these domains.

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