Using patients' experiences in e-learning design
Background: Design of the undergraduate and postgraduate medical curriculum is traditionally the task of medical professionals and educationalists, with regulating bodies approving curriculum content. Although this should ensure a thorough approach to a medical model of the curriculum, it may overlook the importance of the patient's perspective in medical education. The General Medical Council recently issued advice about patient and public involvement in all areas of medical education, including curricular design, but it is not immediately clear how this should be incorporated. Methods: This article describes and analyses an innovative approach to curriculum design, in which patients' experiences are placed at the centre of learning. Important themes identified from qualitative research with patients (and their carers) with autistic spectrum conditions were compared with a pre-established curriculum for an e-learning module by the Royal College of General Practitioners. Results: Significant divergence was identified between the doctor-designed curriculum and the themes identified through patients' experiences. The divergence was analysed and patients' experiences were used to expand the proposed course. Discussion: This research concerned e-learning about autistic spectrum conditions, but may have implications for other areas and modalities of medical education. Further research is needed to determine whether the inclusion in the curriculum of previously ignored themes, which are nevertheless important to patients, has an impact on the quality of the doctor-patient interaction and relationship. © 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.