Improving adolescent psychosocial assessment through standardized patient simulation: An interdisciplinary quality improvement initiative




Monahan, Laura
Eaves, Colleen L.
Watson, Joshua C.
Friese, Jordi
McKenna, Lisa
Estrada-Ibarra, Erika


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Adolescent suicide and mental illness have increased at alarming rates. Healthcare professionals report a lack of skill and confidence in obtaining adolescent histories and managing confidential care due to limited training in residency. Nursing professional development practitioners face challenges of adequately preparing interdisciplinary healthcare providers to assess, identify, and intervene at all points of contact with adolescents. To increase the confidence in clinical communication skills and clinical competency, and to increase the number of social work referrals related to modifiable risk factors for adolescent patients, a Texas pediatric tertiary care center utilized standardized patient (SP) methodology to supplement traditional clinical experiences with communication-focused education based on the Home, Education, Eating, Activities, Drugs, Sexuality, Suicidality, and Safety (HEEADSSS) interviewing. This quality improvement (QI) pilot demonstrated the benefits of utilizing standardized patient methodology in communication-focused education based on the HEEADSSS interviewing. Following the SP simulations, confidence in clinical communication skills increased by 13%, clinical competency in performing comprehensive psychosocial interviews increased by 11%, use of HEEADSSS increased by 64%, and social work referrals increased by 89%. This interdisciplinary SP interviewing simulation pilot was beneficial in improving the 36 physician and nursing residents’ ability to conduct psychosocial assessments for risk factors of suicidality among adolescents.



adolescent, suicide, interdisciplinary, interprofessional education, clinical education strategies, patient simulations


This QI project received no external funding.


CC BY 4.0 DEED Attribution 4.0 International


Monahan, L.; Eaves, C.L.; Watson, J.C.; Friese, J.; McKenna, L.; Estrada-Ibarra, E. Improving Adolescent Psychosocial Assessment through Standardized Patient Simulation: An Interdisciplinary Quality Improvement Initiative. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2024, 21, 283.