Teaching advocacy communication to pediatric residents: the efficacy of applied improvisational theater (AIT) as an instructional tool

Krista Hoffmann-Longtin, Jason M. Organ, Jill V. Helphinstine, Deanna R. Reinoso, Zachary S. Morgan, Elizabeth Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


In today’s communication landscape, the public often turn to the Internet and social media instead of their physician for health information. To remain relevant and respected amidst the wealth of health information available online, physicians need to offer something the Internet cannot fully emulate: empathetic imagination and an ability to instantaneously tailor messages to reach and teach worried and often confused audiences effectively. We developed an instructional communication module for pediatric residents that used applied improvisational theater to help residents develop complex and dynamic communication skills. The module included opportunities to develop empathy, practice audience analysis, distill messages to key points, and apply these skills in media and community contexts. Attendees completed surveys regarding their perceptions of curricular structure, efficacy, and utility. Preliminary results indicate gains in communication confidence and skills. This type of instructional communication and training module encourages healthcare practitioners to position themselves as trusted experts and partners in helping clients make meaning of health information, thus empowering a new generation of pediatricians to bridge communication gaps created by new technologies and increased access to multiple information sources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-459
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018



  • applied improvisational theater
  • communication education
  • health communication
  • instructional communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics

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