Khatri R, Knight J, Wilkinson I.
Introduction: The theory of threshold concepts conjectures that there are areas in every educational curriculum that are challenging; however, mastering these areas transform the learner's view of the subject. In psychiatry, research into threshold concepts can inform educators so that they can better support students with mastering these challenging areas. Purpose: To identify threshold concepts, we conducted semi-structured interviews with six psychiatry educators and free-text surveys with medical students. To identify avenues for improving the curriculum, we discussed with educators, ways of improving understanding and looked at different approaches to learning. Materials and methods: From our analysis of all responses, we derived three threshold concepts: Therapeutic Risk-Taking, the Biopsychosocial Model, and the Concept of Diagnosis in psychiatry. The majority of students experienced difficulties grasping these concepts and applying them in their patient interactions. Results and conclusions: Hence, we propose focused teaching activities that can help students cross these thresholds: student Balint groups exploring therapeutic risk, student Balint groups exploring the role of a psychiatrist, exposure to psychological therapies/psychotherapy skills and explicit diagnostic reasoning. These activities can be integrated into the undergraduate curriculum to help medical students develop a better understanding and appreciation of psychiatry.