Health History Interviewing for the Dental Student


E-Learning and its applicability for soft issues of the dental education:

This research study analyzes if and to which extent e-learning is applicable to familiarize students with a “soft” area of their education, i.e. the basics of medical interviewing, such as taking a medical history, showing empathy and handling patients with anxiety. The module prepares students with the logistics of the standardized patient (SP) encounter, for instance, it explains how to give feedback to peers. This page provides full access to the module as well as to the research performed in the setting of the first-year curriculum.

E-Learning Module:

The e-learning module was developed using Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 for video editing, Adobe Captivate 5 to create the actual e-learning module (inclusive quizzes, scripts to manage dynamic behavior and branching), and Adobe Photoshop CS 4 to correct the photos and to create illustrations. The actual module was embedded in a Learning Management System, Blackboard v 8.3 using adaptive release to separate access for the study and the control group. Students in the study group accessed the following units.

  • Introduction: The Introduction describes what a Standardized Patient is and provides a rationale for learning how to conduct an interview.
  • Behavioral Skills: This e-learning unit introduces the skills of predictability and controllability. It also covers specific behaviors to help patients feel more comfortable.
  • Questioning Techniques: This e-learning unit reviews how to phrase questions to obtain the maximum amount of information in the least amount of time.
  • Medical History: In this e-learning unit, the topics covered in a medical history are described.
  • Preparation for the SP session: Here, students are shown how to greet patients in the waiting room and bring them back to the operatory.
  • Each unit contains video files. To watch them, make sure that you have Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher installed on your computer. You can download the Adobe Flash Player here.


This e-learning module has successfully passed the peer-review process at MedEdPORTAL, the open education resource and publication service provided by the Association of American Medical Colleges in partnership with the American Dental Education Association, and has been officially indexed, formatted, and published:

National Library of Medicine Citation (NLM):
Spallek H, Polk D, Becker K, O'Donnell J, Horvath Z. Introduction to Health History Interviewing for the Dental Student. MedEdPORTAL; 2011. Available from:

Research Study:

In contrast to text book-based learning, e-learning is a relatively new method comprising interactivity, multimedia-based content as well as social interaction. We hypothesize that these features increase students' motivation to start learning and make
e-learning more applicable to familiarize students with "soft" skills, such as showing empathy to patients than textbooks. First-year students of the first professional program who prepared for their first encounter with SP's were be split into two groups. One group (control) got a text-version of the e-learning module. The texts were almost identical, and the conversations of the video examples were presented as written dialogues. In previous years, students had prepared for the SP sessions by reading assigned section of a medical interviewing textbook (1). This year, the control group received a text version close to the e-learning module to improve measurability. The other group (study) was using the newly developed e-learning module.

  • IRB#: PRO10090294
  • Results will be shared upon publication.

Project Team

Heiko Spallek, DMD, PhD, MSBA(CIS): project leader, study design, camera
Kathrin Becker, BSc: e-learning module design, production, interaction design
Deborah E. Polk, PhD: pedagogic content design, actor
Jean O'Donnell, DMD, MS: study design, actor, script development Gina Preciado: standardized patient.
For more information about the project, please contact Dr. Heiko Spallek.

(1) Medical interview: mastering skills for clinical practice by John L. Coulehan, Marian L. Block 5th ed.