This research project has ended. View a list of current research projects or past projects.

Key DFM Personnel

Michael Fleming, MD, MPH – Principal Investigator
Paul Grossberg, MD – Co-investigator
Marlon Mundt, MA, MS – Data Analyst
Judie Pfeifer, MEd – Project Coordinator and IRB Contact


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism


The study is a collaborative project between SIMmersion, LLC of Columbia, MD, Dale Olsen, President and Dr Michael Fleming’s University of Wisconsin DFM alcohol research team. In phase I, SIMmersion is developing a training simulation prototype for personal computers, which helps learners build skills, clarify concepts, and increase retention in the area of alcohol screening and brief intervention. During Phase II, the training simulation will be completed and tested at the University of Wisconsin for efficacy in improving the skills of health care providers.


Alcohol use disorders are common among primary care patients and are often associated with serious adverse health and societal effects. Many health care professionals, however, often lack sufficient background in alcohol screening and brief intervention strategies to effectively help patients who use alcohol above recommended limits. In particular, they often lack the necessary interpersonal process skills critical to addressing issues of patient resistance and ambivalence about reducing their alcohol use.


To develop and evaluate a prototype interactive personal computer-based training simulation, designed for health care professionals to improve their knowledge and clinical skills and to teach healthcare providers to conduct alcohol screening and brief intervention.


During Phase I an expert panel consisting of UW students and health care professionals is working in collaboration with SIMmersion to develop the content and verbal scripts for the clinical scenarios, as well to assess the accuracy and real life applicability of the prototype. Phase II will add video to the simulation, help screens and other training aids and will conduct a randomized educational trial to test the efficacy of the computer based training simulation in improving the skills of health care providers.


The simulated patient program, using the SIMmersion technology, is expected to significantly advance our ability to train medical professionals in human processing and interaction skills. The training program will focus health care professional schools in the US and Western Europe, continuing education programs and health care systems. The product will have important economic advantages over other methods of training medical personal about alcohol screening and brief intervention. Health care professionals who could potentially benefit from the product include physicians, nurses, dentists, social workers, pharmacists, and allied health clinicians.