Using crowdsourced analog patients to provide feedback on physician communication skills

Kathleen M. Mazor, Ann M. King, Ruth B. Hoppe, Angelo D'Addario, Thea G. Musselman, Alfred F. Tallia, Thomas H. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Effective physician-patient communication is important, but physicians who are seeking to improve have few opportunities for practice or receive actionable feedback. The Video-based Communication Assessment (VCA) provides both. Using the VCA, physicians respond to communication dilemmas depicted in brief video vignettes; crowdsourced analog patients rate responses and offer comments. We characterized analog patients’ comments and generated actionable recommendations for improving communication. Methods: Physicians and residents completed the VCA; analog patients rated responses and answered:“What would you want the provider to say in this situation?” We used qualitative analysis to identify themes. Results: Forty-three participants completed the VCA; 556 analog patients provided 1035 comments. We identified overarching themes (e.g., caring, empathy, respect) and generated actionable recommendations, incorporating analog patient quotes. Conclusion: While analog patients’ comments could be provided directly to users, conducting a thematic analysis and developing recommendations for physician-patient communication reduced the burden on users, and allowed for focused feedback. Research is needed into physicians’ reactions to the recommendations and the impact on communication. Practice implications: Physicians seeking to improve communication skills may benefit from practice and feedback. The VCA was designed to provide both, incorporating the patient voice on how best to communicate in clinical situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2297-2303
Number of pages7
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


  • Analog patients
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Feedback
  • Physician-patient communication


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