Student interprofessional mental health simulation (SIMHS): evaluating the impact on medical and nursing students, and clinical psychology trainees

A publication piece evaluating the effectiveness of an interprofessional mental health simulation training course

Attoe, C., Lavelle, M., Sherwali, S., Rimes, K., & Jabur, Z. (2019)


  • Although existing research demonstrates the positive impact of simulation on healthcare trainees, studies have generally examined professional groups in isolation rather than an interprofessional group
  • This study aimed to evaluate changes to the confidence, attitudes, knowledge, and perceived professional development and anticipated clinical practice of healthcare trainees following their participation in interprofessional mental health simulation training
  • Students demonstrated significant improvements in their knowledge, confidence, and attitudes regarding working interprofessionally with physical and psychiatric comorbidities in emergency, medical, and psychiatric settings.




Mental health simulation is the educational practice of recreating clinical situations in safe environments using actors, followed by structured debriefing, to foster professional development and improve care. Although evidence outlines the benefits of simulation, few studies have examined the impact of interprofessional mental health simulation on healthcare trainees, which is more reflective of clinical care. This study evaluated the impact of mental health simulation training on students’ confidence, attitudes, knowledge, and perceived professional development and anticipated clinical practice.


Participants (n=56) were medical (41%) and mental health nursing students (41%), and clinical psychology trainees (18%). Six simulated scenarios, involving 1-3 trainees, were followed by structured debriefs with trained facilitators. Scenarios, using actors, reflected patient journeys through emergency, medical, and psychiatric settings. Participants’ confidence, knowledge, and attitudes were measured quantitatively using pre- and post-course self-report questionnaires. Perceptions of impact on professional development and clinical practice were assessed using thematic analysis of post-course questionnaire responses.


Knowledge, confidence, and attitudes scores showed statistically significant increases, with large effect sizes. Thematic analyses highlighted themes of: interprofessionalism; communication skills; reflective practice; personal resilience; clinical skills; confidence.


Simulation training may begin to influence participants’ professional development and future clinical practice and subsequently care delivered, supporting its increased use in mental health. Further research should clarify the impact of interprofessional simulation training on mental health practice in the context of other training received

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