Expanding Student Knowledge and Confidence on Dietary Supplements Through Mock Patient Consultations

Kendra Walsh, University of Rhode Island
Lisa Cohen, University of Rhode Island
Anne L. Hume, University of Rhode Island


Introduction: As dietary supplements are widely used in the United States, student pharmacists should be prepared to assess their appropriateness for self-care. The purpose of this project was to assess the impact of mock patient consults regarding common dietary supplements on second-year (P2) Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) students. Methods: This activity was part of a required course, Self-Care I. Twenty-four groups of 4 to 5 students were created, with each assigned a unique patient vignette. Students had 10 minutes to speak on the phone with their “patient” to obtain needed information in order to make an appropriate recommendation in the form of a 2 to 3-minute recorded oral response. Anonymous, voluntary pre- and post-project surveys assessing perceived dietary supplement knowledge, patient counseling skills, and attitudes about the activity were conducted during class through Google Forms. The Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test was used to determine differences in mean 10-point Likert scale score between pre- and post-test for each survey question, with significance if p < 0.05. Results: Significant differences were found between pre- and post-survey Likert scale means. Reported confidence in using the QuEST/SCHOLAR-MAC approaches to self-care counseling increased by 45% from baseline. Perceived student knowledge on dietary supplements increased by 44%. Self-rated counseling abilities of students increased by 87% for glucosamine/chondroitin, 28% for melatonin, 39% for red yeast rice, 38% for fish oil, and 42% for cranberry regarding their use in particular cases. Conclusions: The activity provided students with realistic exposure to questions about dietary supplements that patients ask community pharmacists.