Student Perceptions of MASK-EDTM Simulation in Physiotherapy Education: A Mixed Methods Cohort Study


  • Bernie Bissett University of Canberra
  • Nicole Freene University of Canberra
  • Irmina Nahon University of Canberra
  • Jeremy Witchalls University of Canberra
  • Peter Copeman University of Canberra
  • Elisabeth Preston



Introduction: MASK-EDTM simulation is a novel educational approach in which a clinically experienced educator dons a high-fidelity silicone mask and plays the role of a patient. MASK-EDTM simulation has not yet been evaluated in physiotherapy education. The purpose of this study was to describe physiotherapy students’ perceptions of the value of MASK-EDTM simulation and its effect on perceived preparedness for clinical placements.

Methods: Design: Mixed-methods cohort study, using questionnaires and focus groups over 12 months.

Setting: Entry-level Physiotherapy course at an Australian university.

Participants: Eighty-one physiotherapy students enrolled in their first unit of cardiorespiratory Physiotherapy.

Intervention: MASK-EDTM simulation in five tutorials across two semesters, practising skills including history-taking and secretion clearance techniques.

Main outcome measures: Questionnaires pre- and post clinical placement; thematic analysis of focus group data following clinical placement exposure.

Results: One hundred per cent of students described MASK-EDTM as helpful in developing manual handling skills (mean 3.8/4.0, SD 0.4), establishing rapport and empathy with patients (mean 3.7/4.0, SD 0.5), and communicating with an older patient (mean 3.4/4.0, SD 0.6). Following exposure to clinical placement, students perceived MASK-EDTM as slightly less helpful in enhancing readiness for clinical placement (MD –0.20 out of 5, 95% CI –‍0.54 to –0.04) compared with before clinical exposure. However, they still considered MASK-EDTM somewhat helpful (mean 3.2/4.0). Three themes were identified: the safety of the learning environment with MASK-EDTM, the importance of communication in MASK-EDTM simulation and the performative aspects of MASK-EDTM simulation. All three themes were underpinned by the importance of authenticity in learning and practice.

Conclusions: Physiotherapy students perceive MASK-EDTM simulation as valuable in enhancing learning relating to clinical practice, particularly prior to clinical placement.


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Author Biography

Bernie Bissett, University of Canberra

Discipline Lead, Physiotherapy, University of Canberra


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How to Cite

Bissett, B., Freene, N., Nahon, I., Witchalls, J., Copeman, P., & Preston, E. (2021). Student Perceptions of MASK-EDTM Simulation in Physiotherapy Education: A Mixed Methods Cohort Study. Health Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning, 4(1).