The aim of this pilot project was to explore the extent to which judgments made by psychiatrist examiners accord with those of patients in postgraduate clinical examinations, so as to inform further consideration of the role of patients in such assessments.
Senior psychiatrist examiners (N=8) and patients (N=30) rated 16 aspects of trainee psychiatrist interviewing style and performance during 30 observed clinical interviews (OCIs) conducted in the format of official examinations.
Significant differences were apparent in the judgments of examiners and patients regarding 7 of 16 rated aspects of trainee performance. Differences were evident largely in domains in which patients could be expected to be “expert,” reflecting their subjective experience of the interviewer. By contrast, there was little difference in the judgments of patients and examiners on the more technical criteria.
These preliminary findings provide some challenge to the assumption that psychiatrists are the best judges of the “technical” skills and knowledge required by the profession. They support previous findings, with simulated patients, of the discrepancy between patient and examiner judgments of the more subjective elements of the examination. Psychiatric patients could contribute to clinical examinations as co-examiners, rather than merely constituting the substrate for the examination.