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Abstract

Training delivered to medical students and residents in behavioral health is widely acknowledged to be inadequate. While the use of standardized patients is common in medical training and education for physical health conditions via the adherence to clinical protocols for evaluation and treatment, this approach is infrequently used for behavioral health conditions. Used under specific circumstances, standardized patient encounters have long been considered a reliable method of training and assessing trainee performance on addressing physical health conditions, and are even comparable to ratings of directly observed encounters with real patients. This paper discusses common issues and challenges that arise in using standardized patients in behavioral health. Although current evidence of its value is modest and challenges in implementation exist, the use of standardized patients holds promise for medical training and education and as an evaluation tool in behavioral health.

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