Context: A large metropolitan teaching hospital within The Northern Clinical School, University of Sydney.
Objective: To assess whether students taught by trained patients (Patient Partners) acquire the same levels of competence in musculoskeletal examination skills for arthritis as students taught by Consultant Rheumatologists.
Subjects: Year four medical students in a six-year Undergraduate Medical Programme.
Method: Students randomized to eight tutorial groups were taught musculoskeletal examination skills in a 75-90 minute tutorial. Four groups were taught by Consultants with an untrained patient present and four groups were taught by Patient Partners.
Results: Students' mean self-ratings of skill before and after their tutorial were summed. For both groups, self-ratings before the tutorial were similar. After the tutorial both groups showed substantial gains in levels of skill. Patient Partners' ratings of students' taught by either Consultants or Partners were comparable.
Conclusions: Patient Partners are at least equal to Consultant Rheumatologists in the teaching of musculoskeletal examination techniques for arthritis.