The numerical form used traditionally in assessments involving SPs may not capture additional concerns that SPs had regarding the encounter. In addition, SPs often express such concerns in “off the record” manner. Thus, Blatt et al. (2016) presented their findings from their research that attempt to formally capture such concerns. They did this by adding one additional question in the traditional assessment form (Concerns Item) that their SPs have to fill in at the end of the case:

  • SPs: Do you have concerns about this student as a future physician?

The question is an ungraded component of the form and offers both multiple choice response as well as an open-ended comment section. The researchers then carried out both qualitative and quantitative analyses of the responses to this question to answer the following research questions:

  1. How often did SPs use the Concerns item to indicate special concerns about students?
  2. What was the nature of the concerns expressed by SPs in their comments on the Concerns item?
  3. Did the Concerns item identify students with possible performance difficulties not captured by the traditional assessment form?

551 students were assessed by the SPs in the study and it was found that 223 was reported to be of concern. In investigating further, it was found the areas of concerns are related to communication/interpersonal skills, history taking and physical examinations. On top of giving the SPs a means of expressing their concerns formally, Blatt et al. (2016) suggest the value of the additional question was that it allowed educators to capture areas of problems that are not necessarily covered by communication courses. These include odd/off-putting mannerisms, lack of confidence and biased behaviour. In addition, it also identifies ‘at-risks’ students who may have been missed when assessed via the traditional form.

To read the full study, access the paper at:

Benjamin Blatt, Margaret Plack, Samuel Simmens, Joseph Lopreiato, Katherine Berg, Jacqueline Klevan & Karen Lewis (2016): Do Standardized Patients Have Concerns About Students Not Captured by Traditional Assessment Forms?, Teaching and Learning in Medicine, DOI: 10.1080/10401334.2016.1176573


SSH 2017 Concerns Poster--final