The Influence of Teaching Method on Nursing Student Assessment of Suicide Risk

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 8:50 AM

Ann Popkess, PhD
School of Nursing, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL

Learning Objective 1: 1. Examine the influence of teaching method (simulated standardized patients versus lecture) for teaching suicide assessment skills to undergraduate nursing students.

Learning Objective 2: 2. Explore the use of simulated standardized patients for teaching mental health assessment in undergraduate nursing education.

Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States, with over 34,000 deaths per year (CDC, 2010).  The assessment of risk factors for suicide and the presence of suicidal thoughts is a critical function for nurses.  Educating nursing students about suicide assessment often fails to prepare them adequately to inquire about a patient’s risk of suicide due to the student’s negative attitudes, fear and anxiety (Bajaj, Borreani, Ghosh, Methuen, Patel, & Crawford, 2008; Kameg, Mitchell, Closhesy, Howard, & Suresky; Varcolis, Carson, & Shoemaker, 2006).  This research project developed and tested an innovative active learning strategy, simulated standardized patients, for its effectiveness in teaching suicide assessment skills to a sample of senior nursing students at a Midwestern university.  This study examined the influence of teaching method (simulated standardized patients versus lecture) on student satisfaction, self-confidence, and comprehension of concepts regarding the assessment of suicide risk.  Thirty four students consented to participate in this pilot study.  All subjects completed a 9-item suicide assessment questionnaire (Dr. David Jobes, personal communication), a demographic form, and three simulation measurement scales (NLN, 2010).  The use of simulated standardized patients demonstrated a significant difference in student scores of self-confidence, satisfaction, and student perceptions of the educational practices (active learning, collaboration, and appeal to diverse learning styles) when compared to the lecture format.  Nursing students reported that standardized patient encounters were productive and valuable in the context of teaching communication and assessment skills. Student outcomes of learning, however, were not statistically different between the intervention and control groups. Knowledge gained from this study has the potential to improve care for patients at risk for suicide by enhancing the methods used to teach suicide risk assessment techniques to baccalaureate nursing students.