Past Projects

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Talk to Your Doc (TTYD)

Workshops to help patients and the public improve communication with health professionals

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Allies in Health - Community & Patient Fair

The Community and Patient Fair was an annual, one-day interprofessional event that connected about 40 community-based organizations, patient support groups and individuals involved in these agencies with students and faculty at UBC. It was held on UBC campus between 2009 and 2013 as part of Celebrate Learning Week. The Fair recognized the unique expertise and role of people in the community in the education of health professionals and promoted meaningful partnerships between UBC and the communities it serves. Each community organization had a booth to display information. One‐hour ‘patient panels’ were held on a variety of topics throughout the day.

Funding for the Fair came from the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund, Office of the Provost & Associate Vice President Academic, Faculty of Medicine Social Accountability & Community Engagement Initiative, College of Health Disciplines, and donations from community organizations and local businesses.


'Where's the Patient's Voice in Health Professional Education?' Conferences

International Conferences held in Vancouver in 2005 and 2015

The first conference brought together 240 pioneers in the field from a wide range of backgrounds to ‘map the territory’. The conference report documented the state of patient involvement in education, and identified emerging issues and future directions. Conference sponsors included the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (Canada), Primary Health Care Transition Fund (Health Canada), and British Columbia Medical Services Foundation


The second conference in November 2015 looked at progress since the first. It was attended by 250 delegates from 16 countries, representing all the major health disciplines. Most were educational leaders or practitioners; just over 20% identified themselves as patients or community members and 13% as students. The conference resulted in the production of a consensus statement, the Vancouver Statement, to set the agenda for the next five years, and serve as a resource for participants in their own institutions and organizations.


Community Voices in Health Professional Education

This community-based participatory action research project funded by the Vancouver Foundation (2012-2016) informed the development of a mechanism for communities to engage with the university.  The vision is that diverse end-users of the health care system have the power and a mechanism to have sustained influence and participation in the education of health professionals. The project included key informant interviews and dialogues with university and community leaders, resulting in four reports and a literature review. The project led to a monthly newsletter Patient & Community Voices: A monthly newsletter to promote patient and community involvement at UBC and laid the ground work for the development of Patients in Education. Project partners included Cheryl Hewitt from PeerNet BC and Scott Graham from the Social Planning and Research Council of BC.


Engaging Patients as Teachers in Clinical Setting 

Engaging Patients as Teachers in a Clinical Setting is an instructional video and worksheet to help preceptors to involve patients as active teachers in the clinical setting. The materials were developed with a grant from the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (2007).

Health Care Communication in the Aboriginal Community

Aboriginal people in Canada have poorer health than the rest of the population. Reasons for health disparities include problems in communication between doctor and patient. The study aimed to understand doctor–patient communication in Aboriginal communities in order to design educational interventions for medical students based on the needs and experiences of patients.  

Interviews or focus groups were held with 22 Aboriginal community members, 2 community health representatives and 2 Aboriginal trainee physicians. Positive and negative experiences of communicating with physicians fell into three broad and interrelated themes: their histories as First Nations citizens; the extent to which the physician was trusted; time in the medical interview. The findings laid the ground work for the Community and Teacher Cultural Camps. The project was funded by the UBC Faculty of Medicine Special Populations Fund.


Cross Cultural Communication in Health Care Education 

Cross-Cultural Communication in Health Care Education: A Course Manual for Students and Teachers is a curriculum designed to provide health care professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to provide care to a culturally diverse society. The curriculum consists of four modules, each split into three-hour blocks. Each block is further divided into sections for maximum flexibility. We recommend that instructors teach the modules in order, but each one can stand alone.

The curriculum was developed with grants from the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund and Faculty of Medicine Special Populations Fund.

Patients as Educators Research Collaboration 

Patients as Educators Research Collaborative (PERC) met between 2008 and 2010 to review the current state of research and identify major research gaps in this area, including effectiveness, outcomes and sustainability of 'patients as educator' programs. Outputs from PERC included a ‘state of the science’ paper in Medical Education, a bibliography and preliminary work for a report to the UK Health Foundation.  

PERC activities were funded by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council International Opportunities Fund grant


Student Projects

Summer Student Research and Other Student Projects 

Jennifer Ham (Medicine) 2017-18: Learning to provide better care for deaf and hard of hearing patients

Sophia Park (Medicine) 2016: Long-term impact of learning from patients on professional identity and practice

Phoebe Cheng (Medicine) 2015: Development of patients as teachers

Melissa Ng (Medicine) 2014: FLEX activities involving patients and community members

Jenny Chu (Medicine) 2014: FLEX activities involving patients and community members

Rachel Dalzell (Medicine) 2011: Chronic disease self-management: understanding the patients’ experience

Julie Berthin (Masters of Arts) 2011: ‘Talk to your doc’: a workshop to improve health care for new immigrant and refugee women: needs assessment and environmental scan

Ioana Madularu (Medicine) 2008: Lay participation in health professional education

Cora Beitel (Midwifery) 2006: Health outcomes of patients involved in medical education 

Benetta Soo Chin (Medicine) 2006: Health outcomes of patients involved in medical education

Amanda Lai (Medicine) 2005: Internet use by prenatal clients

Lindsay van Tongeren (Medicine) 2005: Internet use by prenatal clients

Lucinda McQuarrie (Medicine) 2004: Enabling prenatal clients to overcome barriers in health care communication

Aisia Salo (Midwifery) 2004: Enabling prenatal clients to overcome barriers in health care communication

Janel Casey (Medicine) 2003: Effectiveness of a community-based intervention to promote stroke survivors and caregivers’ participation in communicating with their physicians

Julia Ridley (Medicine) 2002: Communication experiences between patient and provider in mental health

Holly Weisinger (Medicine) 2001: Enabling seniors to overcome barriers in health care communication

Jennifer Manklow (Medicine) 2001: Enabling seniors to overcome barriers in health care communication

Cindy Orlaw (Medicine) 2000: Communication skills for medical and dental students

Travis Cadieu(Medicine) 1999: Communication skills teaching across the health sciences

Tanya Orton (Medicine) 1999: Patient information to support informed shared decision making

Niriksha Chand (Medicine) 1999: Patient information to support informed shared decision making

Catherine Elliot (Directed Studies EDST 580) 1998: Integration of the social contract in undergraduate medical education: medical school – community dialogue

Vera Etches (Medicine) 1997: Informed shared decision making – a pilot project in communication skills for medical education

Informed Shared Decision Making (ISDM)

Informed Shared Decision Making (ISDM) has been called the crux of patient-centred care. It occurs when a decision about management options for a healthcare problem is made jointly by health professional and a patient. The patient, helped by the health professional to assess the evidence, evaluates the choices available and becomes informed of the risks and benefits. The patient is then able to exercise reasonable autonomy and share in the decisions for medical treatment and health care.

  • ISDM merges two trends in health care: patient-centred care and evidence-based decision making.
  • Ethical and legal trends demand that doctor-patient communications involve informed choice.
  • Improved health care outcomes can result when patients are involved in decisions about their health care.
  • There are many barriers to ISDM including habitual patterns of communication shaped during medical training, perceived lack of time and fear of jeopardizing rapport

Our projects included foundational research and educational interventions for family physicians, residents and medical students as well as for patients [link]. The work was funded by grants from the Max Bell Foundation, BC Medical Services Foundation, Bayer Institute for Health Care Communication, Vancouver Foundation and the UBC Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund.

Links to publications:

Links to ISDM workshop:

Links to ISDM workshop videos: