There are many issues regarding the use of real patients in objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs). In dermatology OSCE stations, standardised patients (SPs) with clinical photographs are often used. Temporary transfer tattoos can potentially simulate skin lesions when applied to an SP. This study aims to appraise the use of temporary malignant melanoma tattoos within an OSCE framework.
Within an 11-station OSCE, a temporary malignant melanoma tattoo was developed and applied to SPs in a ‘skin lesion’ OSCE station. A questionnaire captured the opinions of the candidate, SP and examiners, and the degree of perceived realism of each station was determined. Standard post hoc OSCE analysis determined the psychometric reliability of the stations.
The response rates were 95.9 per cent of candidates and 100 per cent of the examiners and SPs. The ‘skin lesion’ station achieved the highest realism score compared with other stations: 89.0 per cent of candidates felt that the skin lesion appeared realistic; only 28 per cent of candidates had ever seen a melanoma before in training. The psychometric performance of the melanoma station was comparable with, and in many instances better than, other OSCE stations.
Transfer tattoo technology facilitates a realistic dermatology OSCE station encounter. Temporary tattoos, alongside trained SPs, provide an authentic, standardised and reliable experience, allowing the assessment of integrated dermatology clinical skills.