The objective of this study is to describe the process of training valid simulated patients (SPs) for assessing communication and counseling skills of pharmacy students' performance. Methods: This is a cross-sectional and correlational study. Psychometric properties of checklist and SPs' portrayals and their filling of the checklist regarding assessing pharmacy students were assessed. Five SPs who were working in the simulated patient's pool were volunteered to take part in the project, which one of the SPs failed. Three scenarios, along with corresponding checklists, were developed based on the usual medications of different diseases consisting of asthma, respiratory infections, and osteoporosis. The SPs' role-play performance was video-recorded and rated independently by two experts according to an observational rating scale to assess validity. The role-play was repeated after 1 week with the same scenario and the same doctor, to assess test-retest reliability. The inter-rater agreement between SPs and experts was determined by calculating the intraclass correlation coefficient and kappa coefficient. Findings: The four eligible SPs were all women, with an average age of 37 years. The correlation between mean scores of raters and mean scores of SPs was 0.91 and 0.85, respectively. The Pearson's correlation between mean scores of raters with SPs was 0.75. The checklists' reliability, Cronbach's alpha, was calculated to be 0.72. The measured weighted Cohen's kappa for the ratings of by each SP, and the gold standard was between 0.53 and 0.57, indicating a moderate agreement. The inter-rater reliability kappa coefficient between raters was 0.75 (P = 0.01).
Conclusion: The authors have demonstrated the technique of using standardized patients to evaluate communication and counseling skills of pharmacy students. The findings indicated that trained SPs can be used as an effective tool to assess pharmacy students' communication and counseling skills.