Role-reversal exercise with Deaf Strong Hospital to teach communication competency and cultural awareness

Am J Pharm Educ. 2011 Apr 11;75(3):53. doi: 10.5688/ajpe75353.


Objective: To implement a role-reversal exercise to increase first-year pharmacy students' awareness of communication barriers in the health care setting, especially for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients.

Design: Volunteers from the local deaf community conducted Deaf Strong Hospital, a role-reversal exercise in which students were the "patients." Students navigated through a reception area, encounter with a physician, and having a prescription filled at a pharmacy without receiving or using any spoken language.

Assessment: A debriefing session was held in which small groups of students had the opportunity to ask questions of a panel of deaf and hard-of-hearing volunteers. On a survey administered to assess students' learning, 97% agreed or strongly agreed that the experience would likely impact their attitudes and behavior in future interactions with patients who did not speak English.

Conclusions: The role-reversal exercise was an effective method of teaching students that the delivery of health care is dependent on adequate communication between health care providers and the patient.

Keywords: communication; cultural competence; deaf; diversity; hearing impaired.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Communication Barriers
  • Communication*
  • Cultural Competency*
  • Deafness*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards
  • Education, Pharmacy / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Services / organization & administration
  • Pharmaceutical Services / standards
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Role Playing
  • Students, Pharmacy / psychology*