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Introduction to the Project

The Preservice Health Training Project was developed out of a need to train healthcare practitioners to be responsive to the needs of persons with developmental disabilities. In designing the Women's Health Module an interdisciplinary team, consisting of graduate nursing faculty, a doctoral level social worker, adult experts in disabilities, parents, individuals with disabilities, and technical experts, identified a series of core learning objectives. These objectives, based on both the clinical education literature and professional and personal experience, represent important points that primary care providers must know in caring for women with developmental disabilities. Our project has been designed around two main goals:
  • First, to impart substantive knowledge to student and practicing healthcare providers regarding developmental disabilities, common characteristics and secondary conditions of persons with developmental disabilities, and ways in which to provide high-quality treatment to such individuals in the clinical setting.
  • Second, and perhaps more importantly, to help primary care providers to become more comfortable in interacting with women with developmental disabilities in a simulated, though realistic, format.

Module Components

Several items are included with the modules. First is a section of supplemental material. This includes general background material on developmental disabilities (e.g., types of developmental disabilities, person-first language, etc.). The supplemental material also includes specific information for the virtual patient case (a 26 year old woman with mild to moderate intellectual disability) that is presented. Multiple choice questions are also included in a pre and post test format to test students' knowledge.

The video section (virtual patient interaction) represents the core of each module. Each virtual patient interaction includes a series of video clips. Interspersed with the video clips are decision point questions, information points, and information point questions, to which the student must respond in order to proceed. At the conclusion of the module, the user is given the opportunity to hear the perspective of both primary care providers and consumers of women's health care services.

The module also includes an assessment tool, which we refer to as the Disability Situations Inventory for Women's Health Care Providers (DSI-WH). The purpose of the DSI-WH is to gauge the degree to which the PCP feels comfortable in performing routine gynecological examination procedures for patients with a variety of developmental disabilities. The DSI-WH should be given as both a pre-test and a post-test in order to gauge the effectiveness of the module in familiarizing students and PCPs with persons who have developmental disabilities.

The module also contains an Instructor's Guide with several suggestions for further activities. Among these activities are two additional case studies with discussion questions. Two contemporary issues also are included to generate further classroom discussion. A series of possible paper topics are suggested, as well as the framework for suggested additional interviews.