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Advances in Medicine
Volume 2018, Article ID 1408450, 7 pages
Research Article

Evaluating the Difference between Virtual and Paper-Based Clinical Cases in Family Medicine Undergraduate Education

1Faculty of Medicine, University of Maribor, Taborska 8, Sl-2000 Maribor, Slovenia
2Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana, Poljanski nasip 58, Sl-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
3Community Health Centre Ljubljana, Metelkova 9, Sl-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
4Faculty of Education, University of Maribor, Koroska cesta 160, Sl-2000 Maribor, Slovenia

Correspondence should be addressed to Zalika Klemenc-Ketis;

Received 16 May 2017; Revised 25 August 2017; Accepted 3 October 2017; Published 15 January 2018

Academic Editor: Paul Van Royen

Copyright © 2018 Zalika Klemenc-Ketis et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. A “virtual patient” is defined as a computer program which simulates real patients’ cases. The aim of this study was to determine whether the inclusion of virtual patients affects the level of factual knowledge of family medicine students at the undergraduate level. Methods. This was a case-controlled prospective study. The students were randomly divided into experimental (EG: ) and control (CG: ) groups. The students in the EG were asked to practice diagnosis using virtual patients instead of the paper-based clinical cases which were solved by the students in the CG. The main observed variable in the study was knowledge of family medicine, determined by 50 multiple choice questions (MCQs) about knowledge of family medicine. Results. There were no statistically significant differences in the groups’ initial knowledge. At the final assessment of knowledge, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups, but there was a statistically significant difference between their initial and final knowledge. Conclusions. The study showed that adding virtual patient cases to the curriculum, instead of paper clinical cases, did not affect the level of factual knowledge about family medicine. Virtual patients can be used, but a significant educational outcome is not expected.