An Effective Teaching Method to Enhance History-Taking Skills for Chinese Medical Students

Simin Huang, Peng Xu, Lie Feng, Chunting Lu, Jing Yang


History taking is an extremely important skill for medical students to master. In China, medical students usually have opportunities to practise this skill on real patients after they have learned diagnostics and basic relevant theoretical knowledge. Today, however, several factors, such as increased enrolment of medical students and the need to ensure patient safety in avoiding stressful doctor-patient relationships may increase both the difficulty and the importance for medical students to develop this skill. In view of these situations, the aim of this study was to introduce one specific teaching method, i.e., role-play activity, in order to help medical students cultivate and practise history-taking and related skills. 52 third-year medical students were divided into two groups. Students in observation group received role-play activity training before interviewing with real patients. Students in control group were taught by traditional methods without the new method intervention. The teaching effects of role-play activities were evaluated via medical records, tests of history taking and theoretical exams, and questionnaire for the observation group. The scores of seven medical case records for each student in the observation group were analysed and were found to be higher than those in the control group. These results showed no significant differences between the two groups in the first and second interview records with real patients in the hospital, but statistically significant differences were found from the third time. The scores on history-taking tests with a standardized patient (SP) were higher in the observation group than in the control group. No significant difference was found between the two groups in their theory exam scores. Results indicated that role-play activity is an effective method for medical students to improve their history-taking skills. 

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International Journal of Higher Education
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