Objective. To test the feasibility of training laywomen as professional pat
ients to teach doctors to fit the contraceptive diaphragm.
Design. Semi-structured interviews with instructing doctors and questionnai
res to DFFP trainees. These documented current teaching practice and the ac
ceptability of professional patients. The Delphi technique was used to esta
blish a curriculum for the professional patients' training programme.
Results. The results show that there is currently, a lack of standardisatio
n in teaching methods and content with respect to diaphragm fitting. All in
structing doctors and DFFP trainees involved had experienced difficulties i
n recruiting women for training, and the majority would be happy to work wi
th professional patients. After three rounds of the Delphi procedure, conse
nsus was reached and a curriculum developed. Five women were recruited on t
o a training programme, and four successfully completed it.
Conclusion. Lack of standardisation and difficulty recruiting patients are
current problems when training doctors to fit diaphragms. Our study shows t
hat the use of professional patients would be acceptable to both DFFP train
ees and instructing doctors, and that it is possible to recruit and train w
omen for this purpose.