Improving medical students' communication with limited-literacy patients: Project development and implementation

K. Plomer, L. Schneider, G. Barley, M. Cifuentes, M. Dignan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background. Physicians may not realize that some of their patients have limited reading abilities. The AMC Cancer Research Center and the Primary Care Curriculum at the University of Colorado collaborated to develop and implement a project to teach medical students to identify and effectively communicate with limited-literacy patients regarding cancer screening. Method. The project incorporated two standardized-patient (SP) cases on cancer screening and literacy into the existing curriculum for second-year students. A small-group, interactive problem-based learning (PBL) case on breast cancer screening and literacy introduced the concept of communicating about cancer screening and literacy issues. A clinical practice examination on colorectal cancer screening and literacy was given at the end of the year. Results. The collaborative project proved successful in incorporating literacy and cancer screening into a medical school curriculum. Time spent training SPs to play the role of adults with limited literacy was very important, as was time spent pre-testing the cases. The PBL case effectively promoted group discussion of cancer screening and literacy. Conclusion. The project succeeded in making students aware of literacy and cancer screening issues. Outcome results are being analyzed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)68-71
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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