Teaching Forensic Concepts to Residents Using Interactive Online Modules [2020]

Psychiatrists without specialty forensic training routinely encounter forensic questions and treat justice-involved patients, which underscores the importance of adequate forensic training in general psychiatry residency. Some programs may face challenges providing adequate forensic instruction due to a lack of local forensic psychiatrists or other forensic resources. Novel training approaches are needed to fill this gap. This article describes the development, dissemination, and preliminary impact of two online learning modules designed to teach general psychiatry residents about basic forensic psychiatry principles: confidentiality and the duty to third parties. The modules are based on adult learning theory and synthesize clinically relevant vignettes from historically significant legal cases. We disseminated the modules nationally with built-in pre-tests and post-tests. The module responses demonstrate three significant themes: the modules reached learners across the United States; even advanced residents had relatively low subject matter knowledge prior to module completion; and module completion was associated with a significant improvement in resident learners’ knowledge of these two topics. This work shows one potential avenue for filling gaps in forensic education within general psychiatry training, although further studies are needed to appreciate the impact of such educational interventions on clinical practice.

Tobias D. Wasser, Jason Hu, Ayala Danzig, Stephanie Yarnell-MacGrory, Juan Rodriguez Guzman and Katherine Michaelsen
Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, March 2020, 48 (1)