University of Pittsburgh

Summary of Social History Compendium Research Project

Writing standardized patient (SP) cases is a time-consuming process. While the medical details can be composed based on a real patient case, it is often key details about a patient's life, including vocational history, which are difficult and time consuming to create. Often, the vocation is related in some way to a piece of the social history (a lawyer who drinks too much, an accountant dealing with stress) that may not be based on reality. However, these details are also what make the case come alive and make the experience as true-to-life as possible.

In 2004 the Association of Standardized Patient Educators (ASPE) granted a project award to the University of  Pittsburgh School of Medicine to design a bank of standardized patient vocational history case templates with a key to corresponding health risk factors in the social history. This will save time for SP educators as well as create a much more realistic standardized patient experience for medical students. The templates were based on interviews of people in a wide range of professions, using a standardized form, with special attention to health risk factors. These templates do not have any medical information and are not designed to be memorized by the SPs, but are meant to be a background of social and vocational components that can be overlaid with the medical details.

The templates may be accessed through the members’ only section of the ASPE website, for security and availability for others to use.


Welcome to the ASPE Social History Compendium

Your information will be kept confidential. We may contact you by e-mail as part of the ASPE-sponsored effort to develop this Compendium.