Standardized patients’ experiences of portraying characters in difficult communication scenarios: Narrative inquiry

Hung Chen Chen, Che Wei Lin, Chu Yu Huang, Hao-Yu Chen, Chien Lin Kuo, Su Fen Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: There are limited studies that explored the preparation and challenges faced by standardized patients (SPs) in portraying characters in difficult communication scenarios, and the strategies used to overcome these challenges. The purpose of this study was to understand the experience of SPs in interpreting difficult communication situations and the learning needs of performing similar scenarios. And it allows the researchers to explore the meaning, beliefs, values, and aspiration associated with their role as SPs. The findings could shade light on the significance of their experiences and provide valuable insights for the development of future SP training programs. Methods: The design of this study is framed by a narrative inquiry, using semi-structured guidelines to conduct in-depth interviews with 11 SPs who have participated in the performances of difficult communication situations. Research data were analyzed by Polkinghorne narrative analysis, and Riessman’s four criteria were used to establish rigor. Results: Analysis revealed the following five themes: scenarios to real life connections, process of preparing for a performance, methods to detach from character, obtaining unexpected rewards, and needs for performance training. There are two to three subthemes that are subsumed under each theme. Conclusions: To strengthen training in difficult communication for healthcare professionals, the use of SPs to interpret challenging difficult communication scenarios will continue to increase. Educators need to ensure that SPs are fully prepared physically and emotionally before, during and after their performance. Offering of continuing education and training in feedback techniques are crucial to extend the tenure of SPs, reduce their frustration, prevent attrition, and ultimately, reduce training costs. In the future, SP training should also include detachment and feedback techniques to alleviate SPs’ stress.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical Teacher
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • difficult communication scenarios
  • simulation
  • Standardized patient
  • standardized patient training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Standardized patients’ experiences of portraying characters in difficult communication scenarios: Narrative inquiry'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this