Perspect Med Educ. 2023 May 23;12(1):169-178. doi: 10.5334/pme.20. eCollection 2023.
INTRODUCTION: Clinical observation skills are fundamental to the practice of medicine. Yet, the skill of looking carefully is rarely taught within the medical curriculum. This may be a contributory factor in diagnostic errors in healthcare. A growing number of medical schools, especially in the United States, have turned to the humanities to offer visual arts-based interventions to foster medical students' visual literacy. This research aims to map the literature on the relationship between art observation training and diagnostic skills of medical students, highlighting effective teaching methodologies.
METHODS: Based on the Arksey and O'Malley framework, a comprehensive scoping review was conducted. Publications were identified by searching nine databases and hand searching the published and grey literature. Two reviewers independently screened each publication using the pre-designed eligibility criteria.
RESULTS: Fifteen publications were included. Significant heterogeneity exists between the study designs and the methods employed to evaluate skill improvement. Nearly all studies (14/15) reported an increase in the number of observations made post-intervention, but none evaluated long-term retention rates. There was an overwhelmingly positive response to the programme, but only one study explored the clinical relevance of the observations made.
DISCUSSION: The review establishes improved observational acumen following the intervention, however, uncovers very limited evidence towards improved diagnostic abilities. There is a need for greater rigour and consistency within the experimental designs, through using control groups, randomisation, and a standardised evaluation rubric. Further research on the optimal intervention duration and the application of skills gained to clinical practice, should be performed.