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Medical students lived experiences of online Forum Theatre as a form of learning in consulting with victims of domestic abuse

Oral Presentation 7
Dr Daire McGrath Dr Gerard Gormley, Dr Helen Reid, Dr Paul Murphy

Medical students lived experiences of online Forum Theatre as a form of learning in consulting with victims of domestic abuse

Domestic abuse (DA) is a prevalent problem in today’s society; Over 2.4 million adults in England and Wales experienced DA in 2019 (Office for National Statistics, 2019). DA can have significant impact on its victims. Health care professionals (HCPS) have an important role in the care of DA patients. Therefore, it is important that HCPs are adequately trained in recognising DA features and supporting victims during/following disclosure. One area that significantly requires improvement is domestic abuse teaching in medical students, as shown in a cross-sectional study carried out across UK medical schools, 52% of medical students who received DA training reported it only lasted between 0 and 2 hours (Potter LC et al, 2018). In this study, we aim to gain a deep understanding of medical students’ lived experiences of online Forum theatre (FT) in consulting with DA victims.


A multidisciplinary team developed an online FT exercise, which involved a simulated consultation between a GP and DA victim. Spectators are invited to take the place of an actor or guide the actor and decide what action to take, thus helping to change the outcome of the scene. A qualitative approach was conducted, involving hermeneutic phenomenology, to explore participants’ lived experience of the FT exercise. Following the online FT experience, medical students were interviewed, and interview transcripts were analysed using a template analysis approach.

Five themes were developed through our analytical process: 1) “Almost being there - but not quite”: the realistic experience of FT; 2) “Taken on an emotional journey” 3) “Opening and controlling a privileged space”; 4) “Small things matter”: cultivating and maintaining rapport and 5) Critically reflecting on future professional self.

This study provides an in-depth view into a medical student’s experience of online FT. Online FT has the potential to provide a novel DA teaching method for medical students. By providing students with a unique opportunity to step into a GP’s shoes in a DA consultation, students can practice how they will handle a DA scenario, without any potential consequences, helping them to improve their consultation skills.