Using a structured questionnaire improves seizure description by medical students

Saher Kapadia, Hemang Shah, Nancy McNair, J. Ned Pruitt, Anthony Murro, Yong Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate a structured questionnaire for improving a medical students' ability to identify, describe and interpret a witnessed seizure.

METHODS: Ninety two 3rd year medical students, blinded to seizure diagnosis, viewed videos of a primary generalized seizure and a complex partial seizure. Students next completed an unstructured questionnaire that asked the students to describe the seizure video recordings. The students then completed a structured questionnaire that asked the student to respond to 17 questions regarding specific features occurring during the seizures. We determined the number and types of correct responses for each questionnaire.

RESULTS: Overall, the structured questionnaire was more effective in eliciting an average of 9.25 correct responses compared to the unstructured questionnaire eliciting an average of 5.30 correct responses (p < 0.001). Additionally, 10 of the 17 seizure features were identified more effectively with the structured questionnaire. Potentially confounding factors, prior knowledge of someone with epilepsy or a prior experience of viewing a seizure, did not predict the student's ability to correctly identify any of the 17 features.

CONCLUSIONS: A structured questionnaire significantly improves a medical student's ability to provide an accurate clinical description of primary generalized and complex partial witnessed seizures. Our analysis identified the 10 specific features improved by using the structured questionnaire.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-10
Number of pages5
JournalInternational journal of medical education
StatePublished - Jan 10 2016


  • seizure characteristics
  • seizure description
  • seizure questionnaire
  • seizure semiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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