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1.  A few more minutes make a difference? The relationship between content and length of GP consultations 
Objectives. To investigate the relationship between the length of a medical consultation in a general practice setting and the biopsychosocial information obtained by the physician, and to explore the characteristics of young physicians obtaining comprehensive, especially psychosocial information. Design. A prospective, longitudinal follow-up study. Setting. Videotaped consultations with standardized patients on two occasions were scored for the amount of biopsychosocial information obtained. Consultation length was recorded in minutes. Subjects. Final-year (T-1) medical school students (n = 111) participated in the project. On completion of their internship one and a half years later (T-2), 62 attended a second time, as young physicians. Main outcome measures. Content lists. Results. Pearson's r correlations between content and length at T-1 and T-2 were 0.27 and 0.66, respectively (non-overlapping confidence intervals). Psychosocial content increased significantly when consultations exceeded 13 minutes (15 minutes scheduled). Physicians using more than 13 minutes had previously, as hospital interns, perceived more stress in the emergency room and had worked in local hospitals. Conclusions. A strong association was found between consultation length and information, especially psychosocial information, obtained by the physicians at internship completion. This finding should be considered by faculty members and organizers of the internship period. Further research is needed to detect when, during the educational process, increased emphasis on communication skills training would be most beneficial for students/residents, and how the medical curriculum and internship period should be designed to optimize young physicians’ use of time in consultations.
PMCID: PMC3587298  PMID: 23282010
Consultation content; consultation length; general practice; medical students; Norway; physicians; psychosocial
2.  Medical Students' Exposure to and Attitudes about the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Systematic Review 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001037.
A systematic review of published studies reveals that undergraduate medical students may experience substantial exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, and that this contact may be associated with positive attitudes about marketing.
The relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has become a source of controversy. Physicians' attitudes towards the industry can form early in their careers, but little is known about this key stage of development.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic review reported according to PRISMA guidelines to determine the frequency and nature of medical students' exposure to the drug industry, as well as students' attitudes concerning pharmaceutical policy issues. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, and ERIC from the earliest available dates through May 2010, as well as bibliographies of selected studies. We sought original studies that reported quantitative or qualitative data about medical students' exposure to pharmaceutical marketing, their attitudes about marketing practices, relationships with industry, and related pharmaceutical policy issues. Studies were separated, where possible, into those that addressed preclinical versus clinical training, and were quality rated using a standard methodology. Thirty-two studies met inclusion criteria. We found that 40%–100% of medical students reported interacting with the pharmaceutical industry. A substantial proportion of students (13%–69%) were reported as believing that gifts from industry influence prescribing. Eight studies reported a correlation between frequency of contact and favorable attitudes toward industry interactions. Students were more approving of gifts to physicians or medical students than to government officials. Certain attitudes appeared to change during medical school, though a time trend was not performed; for example, clinical students (53%–71%) were more likely than preclinical students (29%–62%) to report that promotional information helps educate about new drugs.
Undergraduate medical education provides substantial contact with pharmaceutical marketing, and the extent of such contact is associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism about negative implications of these interactions. These results support future research into the association between exposure and attitudes, as well as any modifiable factors that contribute to attitudinal changes during medical education.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
The complex relationship between health professionals and the pharmaceutical industry has long been a subject of discussion among physicians and policymakers. There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that physicians' interactions with pharmaceutical sales representatives may influence clinical decision making in a way that is not always in the best interests of individual patients, for example, encouraging the use of expensive treatments that have no therapeutic advantage over less costly alternatives. The pharmaceutical industry often uses physician education as a marketing tool, as in the case of Continuing Medical Education courses that are designed to drive prescribing practices.
One reason that physicians may be particularly susceptible to pharmaceutical industry marketing messages is that doctors' attitudes towards the pharmaceutical industry may form early in their careers. The socialization effect of professional schooling is strong, and plays a lasting role in shaping views and behaviors.
Why Was This Study Done?
Recently, particularly in the US, some medical schools have limited students' and faculties' contact with industry, but some have argued that these restrictions are detrimental to students' education. Given the controversy over the pharmaceutical industry's role in undergraduate medical training, consolidating current knowledge in this area may be useful for setting priorities for changes to educational practices. In this study, the researchers systematically examined studies of pharmaceutical industry interactions with medical students and whether such interactions influenced students' views on related topics.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers did a comprehensive literature search using appropriate search terms for all relevant quantitative and qualitative studies published before June 2010. Using strict inclusion criteria, the researchers then selected 48 articles (from 1,603 abstracts) for full review and identified 32 eligible for analysis—giving a total of approximately 9,850 medical students studying at 76 medical schools or hospitals.
Most students had some form of interaction with the pharmaceutical industry but contact increased in the clinical years, with up to 90% of all clinical students receiving some form of educational material. The highest level of exposure occurred in the US. In most studies, the majority of students in their clinical training years found it ethically permissible for medical students to accept gifts from drug manufacturers, while a smaller percentage of preclinical students reported such attitudes. Students justified their entitlement to gifts by citing financial hardship or by asserting that most other students accepted gifts. In addition, although most students believed that education from industry sources is biased, students variably reported that information obtained from industry sources was useful and a valuable part of their education.
Almost two-thirds of students reported that they were immune to bias induced by promotion, gifts, or interactions with sales representatives but also reported that fellow medical students or doctors are influenced by such encounters. Eight studies reported a relationship between exposure to the pharmaceutical industry and positive attitudes about industry interactions and marketing strategies (although not all included supportive statistical data). Finally, student opinions were split on whether physician–industry interactions should be regulated by medical schools or the government.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This analysis shows that students are frequently exposed to pharmaceutical marketing, even in the preclinical years, and that the extent of students' contact with industry is generally associated with positive attitudes about marketing and skepticism towards any negative implications of interactions with industry. Therefore, strategies to educate students about interactions with the pharmaceutical industry should directly address widely held misconceptions about the effects of marketing and other biases that can emerge from industry interactions. But education alone may be insufficient. Institutional policies, such as rules regulating industry interactions, can play an important role in shaping students' attitudes, and interventions that decrease students' contact with industry and eliminate gifts may have a positive effect on building the skills that evidence-based medical practice requires. These changes can help cultivate strong professional values and instill in students a respect for scientific principles and critical evidence review that will later inform clinical decision-making and prescribing practices.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Further information about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on doctors and medical students can be found at the American Medical Students Association PharmFree campaign and PharmFree Scorecard, Medsin-UKs PharmAware campaign, the nonprofit organization Healthy Skepticism, and the Web site of No Free Lunch.
PMCID: PMC3101205  PMID: 21629685
3.  Details acquired from medical history and patients’ experience of empathy – two sides of the same coin 
BMC Medical Education  2013;13:67.
History taking and empathetic communication are two important aspects in successful physician-patient interaction. Gathering important information from the patient’s medical history is needed for effective clinical decision making while empathy is relevant for patient satisfaction. We wanted to investigate whether medical students near graduation are able to combine both skills as required in daily medical practice.
Thirty near graduates from Hamburg Medical School participated in an assessment for clinical competences including a consultation hour with five standardized patients. Each patient interview was videotaped and standardized patients rated participants with the CARE questionnaire for consultation and relational empathy. All videotaped interviews were rated with a checklist based on the number of important medical aspects for each case. Data were analysed with the linear mixed model to correct for random effects. Regression analysis was performed to look for correlations between the number of questions asked by a participant and their respective empathy rating.
Of the 123 aspects that could have been gathered in total, students only requested 56.4% (95% CI 53.5-59.3). While no difference between male and female participants was found, a significant difference (p < .001) was observed between the two parts of the checklist with 61.1% (95% CI 57.9-64.3) of aspects asked for in part 1 (patient’s symptoms) versus 52.0 (95 47.4-56.7) in part 2 (further history). All female standardized patients combined rated female participants (mean score 14.2, 95% CI 12.3-16.3) to be significantly (p < .01) more empathetic than male participants (mean score 19.2, 95% CI 16.3-22.6). Regression analysis revealed no correlation between the number of medical aspects gathered by a participant and his or her respective empathy score given by the standardized patient in the CARE questionnaire.
Gathering sufficient medical data from a patient’s history and empathetic communication are two completely separate sides of the coin of history taking. While both skills have to be acquired during medical school training with particular focus on their respective learning objectives, medical students need to be provided with additional learning and feedback opportunities where they can be observed exercising both skills combined as required in physicians’ daily practice.
PMCID: PMC3661386  PMID: 23659369
History taking; Medical history; Communication; Competence; Empathy; Feedback
4.  Does the inclusion of 'professional development' teaching improve medical students' communication skills? 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:41.
This study investigated whether the introduction of professional development teaching in the first two years of a medical course improved students' observed communication skills with simulated patients. Students' observed communication skills were related to patient-centred attitudes, confidence in communicating with patients and performance in later clinical examinations.
Eighty-two medical students from two consecutive cohorts at a UK medical school completed two videoed consultations with a simulated patient: one at the beginning of year 1 and one at the end of year 2. Group 1 (n = 35) received a traditional pre-clinical curriculum. Group 2 (n = 47) received a curriculum that included communication skills training integrated into a 'professional development' vertical module. Videoed consultations were rated using the Evans Interview Rating Scale by communication skills tutors. A subset of 27% were double-coded. Inter-rater reliability is reported.
Students who had received the professional development teaching achieved higher ratings for use of silence, not interrupting the patient, and keeping the discussion relevant compared to students receiving the traditional curriculum. Patient-centred attitudes were not related to observed communication. Students who were less nervous and felt they knew how to listen were rated as better communicators. Students receiving the traditional curriculum and who had been rated as better communicators when they entered medical school performed less well in the final year clinical examination.
Students receiving the professional development training showed significant improvements in certain communication skills, but students in both cohorts improved over time. The lack of a relationship between observed communication skills and patient-centred attitudes may be a reflection of students' inexperience in working with patients, resulting in 'patient-centredness' being an abstract concept. Students in the early years of their medical course may benefit from further opportunities to practise basic communication skills on a one-to-one basis with patients.
PMCID: PMC3141797  PMID: 21708000
communication skills; patient-centredness; medical student; curriculum change; video observation
5.  Teaching Medical Students the Important Connection between Communication and Clinical Reasoning 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2005;20(12):1108-1113.
Medical students are rarely taught how to integrate communication and clinical reasoning. Not understanding the relation between these skills may lead students to undervalue the connection between psychosocial and biomedical aspects of patient care.
To improve medical students' communication and clinical reasoning and their appreciation of how these skills interrelate in medical practice.
In 2003, we conducted a randomized trial of a curricular intervention at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In a 6-week course, participants learned communication and clinical reasoning skills in an integrative fashion using small group exercises with role-play, reflection and feedback through a structured iterative reflective process.
Second-year medical students.
All students interviewed standardized patients who evaluated their communication skills in establishing rapport, data gathering and patient education/counseling on a 5-point scale (1=poor; 5=excellent). We assessed clinical reasoning through the number of correct problems listed and differential diagnoses generated and the Diagnostic Thinking Inventory. Students rated the importance of learning these skills in an integrated fashion.
Standardized patients rated curricular students more favorably in establishing rapport (4.1 vs 3.9; P=.05). Curricular participants listed more psychosocial history items on their problem lists (65% of curricular students listing ≥1 item vs 44% of controls; P=.008). Groups did not differ significantly in other communication or clinical reasoning measures. Ninety-five percent of participants rated the integration of these skills as important.
Intervention students performed better in certain communication and clinical reasoning skills. These students recognized the importance of biomedical and psychosocial issues in patient care. Educators may wish to teach the integration of these skills early in medical training.
PMCID: PMC1490291  PMID: 16423099
communication skills; clinical reasoning; medical education (undergraduate); reflection; feedback
6.  Managing the complexity of doing it all: an exploratory study on students’ experiences when trained stepwise in conducting consultations 
BMC Medical Education  2014;14(1):206.
At most medical schools the components required to conduct a consultation, medical knowledge, communication, clinical reasoning and physical examination skills, are trained separately. Afterwards, all the knowledge and skills students acquired must be integrated into complete consultations, an art that lies at the heart of the medical profession. Inevitably, students experience conducting consultations as complex and challenging. Literature emphasizes the importance of three didactic course principles: moving from partial tasks to whole task learning, diminishing supervisors’ support and gradually increasing students’ responsibility. This study explores students’ experiences of an integrated consultation course using these three didactic principles to support them in this difficult task.
Six focus groups were conducted with 20 pre-clerkship and 19 clerkship students in total. Discussions were audiotaped, transcribed and analysed by Nvivo using the constant comparative strategy within a thematic analysis.
Conducting complete consultations motivated students in their learning process as future physician. Initially, students were very much focused on medical problem solving. Completing the whole task of a consultation obligated them to transfer their theoretical medical knowledge into applicable clinical knowledge on the spot. Furthermore, diminishing the support of a supervisor triggered students to reflect on their own actions but contrasted with their increased appreciation of critical feedback. Increasing students’ responsibility stimulated their active learning but made some students feel overloaded. These students were anxious to miss patient information or not being able to take the right decisions or to answer patients’ questions, which sometimes resulted in evasive coping techniques, such as talking faster to prevent the patient asking questions.
The complex task of conducting complete consultations should be implemented early within medical curricula because students need time to organize their medical knowledge into applicable clinical knowledge. An integrated consultation course should comprise a step-by-step teaching strategy with a variety of supervisors’ feedback modi, adapted to students’ competence. Finally, students should be guided in formulating achievable standards to prevent them from feeling overloaded in practicing complete consultations with simulated or real patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1472-6920-14-206) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4181426  PMID: 25257383
Conducting complete consultations; Didactic course principles; MeSH terms; Education; Medical; Undergraduate; Clinical competence; Physician-patient relations; Professional practice
7.  Evaluation of the effectiveness of an educational intervention for general practitioners in adolescent health care: randomised controlled trial 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2000;320(7229):224-230.
To evaluate the effectiveness of an educational intervention in adolescent health designed for general practitioners in accordance with evidence based practice in continuing medical education.
Randomised controlled trial with baseline testing and follow up at seven and 13 months.
Local communities in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia.
108 self selected general practitioners.
A multifaceted educational programme for 2.5 hours a week over six weeks on the principles of adolescent health care followed six weeks later by a two hour session of case discussion and debriefing.
Outcome measures
Objective ratings of consultations with standardised adolescent patients recorded on videotape. Questionnaires completed by the general practitioners were used to measure their knowledge, skill, and self perceived competency, satisfaction with the programme, and self reported change in practice.
103 of 108 (95%) doctors completed all phases of the intervention and evaluation protocol. The intervention group showed significantly greater improvements in all outcomes than the control group at the seven month follow up except for the rapport and satisfaction rating by the standardised patients. 104 (96%) participants found the programme appropriate and relevant. At the 13 month follow up most improvements were sustained, the confidentiality rating by the standardised patients decreased slightly, and the objective assessment of competence further improved. 106 (98%) participants reported a change in practice attributable to the intervention.
General practitioners were willing to complete continuing medical education in adolescent health care and its evaluation. The design of the intervention using evidence based educational strategies proved an effective and quick way to achieve sustainable and large improvements in knowledge, skill, and self perceived competency.
Key messagesFirm evidence shows that the confidence, knowledge, and skills of doctors in adolescent health contribute to barriers in delivering health care to youthEvidence based strategies in continuing medical education were used in the design of a training programme to address the needs of doctors and youthThe programme covered adolescent development, consultation and communication skills, health risk screening, health promotion, risk assessment of depression and suicide, and issues in management of psychosocial health risk including interdisciplinary approaches to careMost interested doctors attended and completed the 15 hour training programme over six weeks and the evaluation protocol covering 13 monthsDoctors completing the training had substantial gains in knowledge, clinical skills, and self perceived competency than the controls; these gains were sustained at 12 months and were further improved in the objective measure of clinical competence in conducting a psychosocial interview
PMCID: PMC27271  PMID: 10642233
8.  A metric-based analysis of structure and content of telephone consultations of final-year medical students in a high-fidelity emergency medicine simulation 
BMJ Open  2012;2(5):e001298.
In this study we aimed to analyse the structure and content of telephone consultations of final-year medical students in a high-fidelity emergency medicine simulation. The purpose was to identify any areas of deficiency within structure and content in the effective transfer of clinical information via the telephone of final-year medical students.
An educational study.
Simulation centre in a medical school.
113 final-year medical students.
Primary and secondary outcomes
The primary outcome was to analyse the structure and content of telephone consultations of final-year medical students in a high-fidelity emergency medicine simulation. The secondary outcome was to identify any areas of deficiency within structure and content in the effective transfer of clinical information via the telephone of final-year medical students.
During phone calls to a senior colleague 30% of students did not positively identify themselves, 29% did not identify their role, 32% did not positively identify the recipient of the phone call, 59% failed to positively identify the patient, 49% did not read back the recommendations of their senior colleague and 97% did not write down the recommendations of their senior colleague.
We identified a deficiency in our students skills to communicate relevant information via the telephone, particularly failure to repeat back and write down instructions. We suggest that this reflects a paucity of opportunities to practice this skill in context during the undergraduate years. The assumption that this skill will be acquired following qualification constitutes a latent error within the healthcare system. The function of undergraduate medical education is to produce graduates who are fit for purpose at the point of graduation.
PMCID: PMC3467639  PMID: 22983784
Medical Education & Training; Communication; Simulation; Patient Safety
9.  Cross-sectional evaluation of a longitudinal consultation skills course at a new UK medical school 
BMC Medical Education  2011;11:55.
Good communication is a crucial element of good clinical care, and it is important to provide appropriate consultation skills teaching in undergraduate medical training to ensure that doctors have the necessary skills to communicate effectively with patients and other key stakeholders. This article aims to provide research evidence of the acceptability of a longitudinal consultation skills strand in an undergraduate medical course, as assessed by a cross-sectional evaluation of students' perceptions of their teaching and learning experiences.
A structured questionnaire was used to collect student views. The questionnaire comprised two parts: 16 closed questions to evaluate content and process of teaching and 5 open-ended questions. Questionnaires were completed at the end of each consultation skills session across all year groups during the 2006-7 academic year (5 sessions in Year 1, 3 in Year 2, 3 in Year 3, 10 in Year 4 and 10 in Year 5). 2519 questionnaires were returned in total.
Students rated Tutor Facilitation most favourably, followed by Teaching, then Practice & Feedback, with suitability of the Rooms being most poorly rated. All years listed the following as important aspects they had learnt during the session:
• how to structure the consultation
• importance of patient-centredness
• aspects of professionalism (including recognising own limits, being prepared, generally acting professionally).
All years also noted that the sessions had increased their confidence, particularly through practice.
Our results suggest that a longitudinal and integrated approach to teaching consultation skills using a well structured model such as Calgary-Cambridge, facilitates and consolidates learning of desired process skills, increases student confidence, encourages integration of process and content, and reinforces appreciation of patient-centredness and professionalism.
PMCID: PMC3161005  PMID: 21824390
10.  Words that make pills easier to swallow: a communication typology to address practical and perceptual barriers to medication intake behavior 
The barriers to patients’ successful medication intake behavior could be reduced through tailored communication about these barriers. The aim of this study is therefore (1) to develop a new communication typology to address these barriers to successful medication intake behavior, and (2) to examine the relationship between the use of the typology and the reduction of the barriers to successful medication intake behavior.
Patients and methods
Based on a literature review, the practical and perceptual barriers to successful medication intake behavior typology (PPB-typology) was developed. The PPB-typology addresses four potential types of barriers that can be either practical (memory and daily routine barriers) or perceptual (concern and necessity barriers). The typology describes tailored communication strategies that are organized according to barriers and communication strategies that are organized according to provider and patient roles. Eighty consultations concerning first-time medication use between nurses and inflammatory bowel disease patients were videotaped. The verbal content of the consultations was analyzed using a coding system based on the PPB-typology. The Medication Understanding and Use Self-efficacy Scale and the Beliefs about Medicine Questionnaire Scale were used as indicators of patients’ barriers and correlated with PPB-related scores.
The results showed that nurses generally did not communicate with patients according to the typology. However, when they did, fewer barriers to successful medication intake behavior were identified. A significant association was found between nurses who encouraged question-asking behavior and memory barriers (r = −0.228, P = 0.042) and between nurses who summarized information (r = −0.254, P = 0.023) or used cartoons or pictures (r = −0.249, P = 0.026) and concern barriers. Moreover, a significant relationship between patients’ emotional cues about side effects and perceived concern barriers (r = 0.244, P = 0.029) was found as well.
The PPB-typology provides communication recommendations that are designed to meet patients’ needs and assist providers in the promotion of successful medication intake behavior, and it can be a useful tool for developing effective communication skills training programs.
PMCID: PMC3526884  PMID: 23271896
interpersonal communication; tailoring; adherence; coding provider-patient interaction; beliefs; self-efficacy
11.  Familiarity between patient and general practitioner does not influence the content of the consultation 
BMC Family Practice  2008;9:51.
Personal continuity in general practice is considered to be a prerequisite of high quality patient care based on shared knowledge and mutual understanding. Not much is known about how personal continuity is reflected in the content of GP – patient communication. We explored whether personal continuity of care influences the content of communication during the consultation.
Personal continuity was defined as the degree of familiarity between GP and patient, rated by both the GP and the patient. 394 videotaped consultations between GPs and patients aged 18 years and older were analyzed. GP – patient communication was evaluated with an observation checklist, which rated the following topics of conversation: (1) medical issues, (2) psychological themes, and (3) the social environment of the patient. For each of these topics we coded whether or not it received attention, and was built upon prior knowledge. Data were analyzed using multilevel logistic regression analyses.
No relationship was found between GP – patient familiarity and the discussion of medical issues, psychological themes, or the social environment of the patient. But if the patient and the GP knew each other very well, the GP more often displayed prior knowledge with the topic in question. Few patient and GP characteristics were associated with differences in content of communication.
Given the relatively small sample size, we carefully conclude that familiarity between a GP and a patient does not influence the content of the communication (medical issues, psychological themes nor topics relating to the social environment). This is remarkable because we expected that familiarity would 'open up the communication' for more psychological and social themes. GPs seem to have the communication skills to put both familiar and non-familiar patients at ease enabling them to freely raise any issue they think necessary.
PMCID: PMC2566977  PMID: 18816369
12.  Using professional interpreters in undergraduate medical consultation skills teaching 
The ability to work with interpreters is a core skill for UK medical graduates. At the University of Sheffield Medical School, this teaching was identified as a gap in the curriculum. Teaching was developed to use professional interpreters in role-play, based on evidence that professional interpreters improve health outcomes for patients with limited English proficiency. Other principles guiding the development of the teaching were an experiential learning format, integration to the core consultation skills curriculum, and sustainable delivery. The session was aligned with existing consultation skills teaching to retain the small-group experiential format and general practitioner (GP) tutor. Core curricular time was found through conversion of an existing consultation skills session. Language pairs of professional interpreters worked with each small group, with one playing patient and the other playing interpreter. These professional interpreters attended training in the scenarios so that they could learn to act as patient and family interpreter. GP tutors attended training sessions to help them facilitate the session. This enhanced the sustainability of the session by providing a cohort of tutors able to pass on their expertise to new staff through the existing shadowing process. Tutors felt that the involvement of professional interpreters improved student engagement. Student evaluation of the teaching suggests that the learning objectives were achieved. Faculty evaluation by GP tutors suggests that they perceived the teaching to be worthwhile and that the training they received had helped improve their own clinical practice in consulting through interpreters. We offer the following recommendations to others who may be interested in developing teaching on interpreted consultations within their core curriculum: 1) consider recruiting professional interpreters as a teaching resource; 2) align the teaching to existing consultation skills sessions to aid integration; and 3) invest in faculty development for successful and sustainable delivery.
Video abstract
PMCID: PMC4246924  PMID: 25473325
interpreter; communication skills; curriculum
13.  Undergraduate training for communication in medical practice. 
Communication is a major aspect of medical practice in such areas as the consultation, counselling, team work, management duties, health education and teaching. Many communication skills essential to the clinical consultation are different from those used in everyday life. They require an understanding of the doctor/patient relationship and of the self as well as of others. They also require a subserving repertoire of specific behavioural skills. The present paper sets out to emphasize this pervasive importance of communication skills in medical practice and to suggest some educational goals and objectives for those skills of particular relevance to the consultation. It describes one attempt to pursue these within the author's own school despite the piecemeal nature of such teaching. In Britain great emphasis is placed on the importance of clinical skills and this is reflected in the priority given to them in the final professional examination, and yet their communication aspects are rarely well defined within the curriculum or directly assessed. The author advocates the teaching and assessment of communication skills as a continuous process throughout undergraduate and postgraduate medical education for clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC1290494  PMID: 2431140
14.  Self-assessment and goal-setting is associated with an improvement in interviewing skills 
Medical Education Online  2014;19:10.3402/meo.v19.24407.
Describe the relationship between medical students’ self-assessment and goal-setting (SAGS) skills and development of interviewing skills during the first-year doctoring course.
157 first-year medical students completed three two-case standardized patient (SP) interviews. After each of the first two, students viewed videotapes of their interview, completed a SAGS worksheet, and reviewed a selected tape segment in a seminar. SAGS was categorized into good and poor quality and interviewing skills were rated by trained raters.
SAGS improved over time (37% good week 1 vs. 61% good week 10). Baseline SAGS and interviewing skills were not associated. Initial SAGS quality was associated with change in interviewing skills – those with poor-quality SAGS demonstrated a decrease and those with good-quality SAGS demonstrated an increase in scores by 17 weeks (ANOVA F=4.16, p=0.024). For students whose SAGS skills were good at both week 1 and 10, interviewing skills declined in weeks 1–10 and then increased significantly at week 17. For those whose SAGS remained ‘poor’ in weeks 1–10, interviewing skills declined in weeks 10–17.
In general, the quality of students’ SAGS improved over time. Poor baseline SAGS skills and failure to improve were associated with a decrease in interviewing skills at 17 weeks. For students with better SAGS, interviewing skills increased at week 17. Improvement in SAGS skills was not associated with improved interviewing skills. Understanding structured self-assessment skills helps identify student characteristics that influence progressive mastery of communication skills and therefore may inform curriculum and remediation tailoring.
PMCID: PMC4110382  PMID: 25059835
communication skills; self-assessment; peer-assessment; goal setting; videotape review; medical interview
15.  Video-assisted feedback in general practice internships using German general practitioner's guidelines  
Introduction: The planned modification of the Medical Licenses Act in Germany will strengthen the specialty of general practice. Therefore, medical students should get to know the daily routine of general practitioners during their academic studies. At least 10% of students should get the possibility to spend one quarter of the internship, in the last year of their academic studies, in a practice of family medicine.
The demonstrated teaching method aims at giving feedback to the student based on video recordings of patient consultations (student-patient) with the help of a checklist.
Video-feedback is already successful used in medical teaching in Germany and abroad.
This feasibility study aims at assessing the practicability of video-assisted feedback as a teaching method during internship in general practice.
Teaching method: First of all, the general practice chooses a guideline as the learning objective. Secondly, a subsequent patient – student – consultation is recorded on video. Afterwards, a video-assisted formative feedback is given by the physician. A checklist with learning objectives (communication, medical examination, a structured case report according to the guideline) is used to structure the feedback content.
Feasibility: The feasibility was assessed by a semi structured interview in order to gain insight into barriers and challenges for future implementation. The teaching method was performed in one general practice. Afterwards the teaching physician and the trainee intern were interviewed.
The following four main categories were identified: feasibility, performance, implementation in daily routine, challenges of the teaching concept.
The results of the feasibility study show general practicability of this approach. Installing a video camera in one examination room may solve technical problems. The trainee intern mentioned theoretical and practical benefits using the guideline. The teaching physician noted the challenge to reflect on his daily routines in the light of evidence-based guidelines.
Conclusion: This teaching method supports quality control and standardizing of learning objectives during the internship in general practice by using general practice guidelines. The use of a checklist enhances this method in general practice. We consider the presented teaching method in the context of the planned modification of the Medical Licenses Act is part of quality control and standardisation of medical teaching during general practice internships. In order to validate these presumptions, further, evaluation of this method concerning the learning objectives using the guidelines of general practice need to be carried out.
PMCID: PMC3525913  PMID: 23255963
Video feedback; general practice; guideline; evidence based medicine; internship
16.  Using standardized patients to assess communication skills in medical and nursing Students 
BMC Medical Education  2010;10:24.
A number of recent developments in medical and nursing education have highlighted the importance of communication and consultation skills (CCS). Although such skills are taught in all medical and nursing undergraduate curriculums, there is no comprehensive screening or assessment programme of CCS using professionally trained Standardized Patients Educators (SPE's) in Ireland. This study was designed to test the content, process and acceptability of a screening programme in CCS with Irish medical and nursing students using trained SPE's and a previously validated global rating scale for CCS.
Eight tutors from the Schools of Nursing and Medicine at University College Cork were trained in the use of a validated communication skills and attitudes holistic assessment tool. A total of forty six medical students (Year 2 of 5) and sixty four nursing students (Year 2/3 of 4) were selected to under go individual CCS assessment by the tutors via an SPE led scenario. Immediate formative feedback was provided by the SPE's for the students. Students who did not pass the assessment were referred for remediation CCS learning.
Almost three quarters of medical students (33/46; 72%) and 81% of nursing students (56/64) passed the CCS assessment in both communication and attitudes categories. All nursing students had English as their first language. Nine of thirteen medical students referred for enhanced learning in CCS did not have English as their first language.
A significant proportion of both medical and nursing students required referral for enhanced training in CCS. Medical students requiring enhanced training were more likely not to have English as a first language.
PMCID: PMC2845182  PMID: 20236526
17.  Impact on patients of expanded, general practice based, student teaching: observational and qualitative study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;331(7508):89.
Objectives To compare patients' enablement and satisfaction after teaching and non-teaching consultations. To explore patients' views about the possible impact that increased community based teaching of student doctors in their practice may have on the delivery of service and their attitudes towards direct involvement with students.
Design Observational study using validated survey instruments (patient enablement index—PEI, and consultation satisfaction questionnaire—CSQ) administered after teaching consultations and non-teaching consultations. Ten focus groups (two from each practice), comprising five with patients participating in prearranged teaching sessions and five with patients not participating in these.
Setting Five general practices in west Suffolk and southern Norfolk, England, that teach student doctors on the Cambridge graduate medical course.
Participants 240 patients attending teaching consultations (response rate 82%, 196 patients) and 409 patients attending non-teaching consultations (response rate 72%, 294 patients) received survey instruments. Ten focus groups with a total of 34 patients participating in prearranged teaching sessions and 20 patients not participating in these.
Main outcome measures Scores on the patient enablement index and consultation satisfaction questionnaire, analysed at the level of all patients, allowing for age, sex, general practitioner, and practice, and at the level of the individual general practitioner teacher. Qualitative analysis of focus group data.
Results Patients' enablement or satisfaction was not reduced after teaching consultations compared with non-teaching consultations (mean difference in scores on the patient enablement index and consultation satisfaction questionnaire with adjustment for confounders 2.24% and 1.70%, respectively). This held true for analysis by all patients and by general practitioner teacher. Qualitative data showed that patients generally supported the teaching of student doctors in their practice. However, this support was conditional on receiving sufficient information about reasons for doctors' absence, the characteristics of students, and the nature of teaching planned. Many patients viewed their general practice as different from hospital and expected greater control over students' presence during their consultations.
Conclusions Patients' enablement and satisfaction are not impaired by students' participation in consultations. Patients generally support the teaching of student doctors in their general practice but expect to be provided with sufficient information and to have a choice about participation, so they can give informed consent. Recognising this when organising general practice based teaching is important.
PMCID: PMC558616  PMID: 15996965
18.  Medical students as EMTs: skill building, confidence and professional formation 
Medical Education Online  2014;19:10.3402/meo.v19.24829.
The first course of the medical curriculum at the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, From the Person to the Professional: Challenges, Privileges and Responsibilities, provides an innovative early clinical immersion. The course content specific to the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) curriculum was developed using the New York State Emergency Medical Technician curriculum. Students gain early legitimate clinical experience and practice clinical skills as team members in the pre-hospital environment. We hypothesized this novel curriculum would increase students’ confidence in their ability to perform patient care skills and enhance students’ comfort with team-building skills early in their training.
Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from first-year medical students (n=97) through a survey developed to assess students’ confidence in patient care and team-building skills. The survey was completed prior to medical school, during the final week of the course, and at the end of their first year. A paired-samples t-test was conducted to compare self-ratings on 12 patient care and 12 team-building skills before and after the course, and a theme analysis was conducted to examine open-ended responses.
Following the course, student confidence in patient care skills showed a significant increase from baseline (p<0.05) for all identified skills. Student confidence in team-building skills showed a significant increase (p<0.05) in 4 of the 12 identified skills. By the end of the first year, 84% of the first-year students reported the EMT curriculum had ‘some impact’ to ‘great impact’ on their patient care skills, while 72% reported the EMT curriculum had ‘some impact’ to ‘great impact’ on their team-building skills.
The incorporation of EMT training early in a medical school curriculum provides students with meaningful clinical experiences that increase their self-reported level of confidence in the performance of patient care skills early in their medical education.
PMCID: PMC4108757  PMID: 25056855
undergraduate medical education; curriculum; pre-hospital care; clinical skills; team building; professional role
19.  Changes in the quality of doctor–patient communication between 1982 and 2001: an observational study on hypertension care as perceived by patients and general practitioners 
BMJ Open  2011;1(1):e000203.
The rise of evidence-based medicine may have implications for the doctor–patient interaction. In recent decades, a shift towards a more task-oriented approach in general practice indicates a development towards more standardised healthcare.
To examine whether this shift is accompanied by changes in perceived quality of doctor–patient communication.
GP observers and patient observers performed quality assessments of Dutch General Practice consultations on hypertension videotaped in 1982–1984 and 2000–2001. In the first cohort (1982–1984) 81 patients were recorded by 23 GPs and in the second cohort (2000–2001) 108 patients were recorded by 108 GPs. The GP observers and patient observers rated the consultations on a scale from 1 to 10 on three quality dimensions: medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and quality of interpersonal behaviour. Multilevel regression analyses were used to test whether a change occurred over time.
The findings showed a significant improvement over time on all three dimensions. There was no difference between the quality assessments of GP observers and patient observers. The three different dimensions were moderately to highly correlated and the assessments of GP observers showed less variability in the second cohort.
Hypertension consultations in general practice in the Netherlands received higher quality assessments by general practitioners and patients on medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and the quality of interpersonal behaviour in 2000–2001 as compared with the 1980s. The shift towards a more task-oriented approach in hypertension consultations does not seem to detract from individual attention for the patient. In addition, there is less variation between general practitioners in the quality assessments of more recent consultations. The next step in this line of research is to unravel the factors that determine patients' quality assessments of doctor–patient communication.
Article summary
Article focus
Doctor–patient communication in hypertension consultations has become more business-like and task-oriented in the past few decades.
Shifts in communication styles in general practice may have produced changes in quality assessments of doctor–patient communication by general practitioners and patients.
Key messages
Compared with 20 years earlier (1982–1984), hypertension consultations recorded in 2000–2001 received higher quality assessments by GP observers and patient observers on three distinct quality dimensions: medical technical quality, psychosocial quality and the quality of interpersonal behaviour.
There was less variation between general practitioners in the quality assessments of more recent consultations.
Strengths and limitations of this study
Videotaped real-life general practice consultations from two distinct periods were analysed, which means that the findings refer to actual behaviour in general practice.
The quality assessments were made according to the same protocol in both periods.
Assessments of the GPs were executed by contemporary peers, while the assessments of patients were performed retrospectively. However, the concurrence of assessments of patient observers and GP observers in their different contexts reinforces our conclusions.
The generalisability of the findings is restricted to hypertension consultations, which involve a high proportion of repeat visits.
PMCID: PMC3191582  PMID: 22021787
20.  Virtual Patients in Primary Care: Developing a Reusable Model That Fosters Reflective Practice and Clinical Reasoning 
Primary care is an integral part of the medical curriculum at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden. It is present at every stage of the students’ education. Virtual patients (VPs) may support learning processes and be a valuable complement in teaching communication skills, patient-centeredness, clinical reasoning, and reflective thinking. Current literature on virtual patients lacks reports on how to design and use virtual patients with a primary care perspective.
The objective of this study was to create a model for a virtual patient in primary care that facilitates medical students’ reflective practice and clinical reasoning. The main research question was how to design a virtual patient model with embedded process skills suitable for primary care education.
The VP model was developed using the Open Tufts University Sciences Knowledgebase (OpenTUSK) virtual patient system as a prototyping tool. Both the VP model and the case created using the developed model were validated by a group of 10 experienced primary care physicians and then further improved by a work group of faculty involved in the medical program. The students’ opinions on the VP were investigated through focus group interviews with 14 students and the results analyzed using content analysis.
The VP primary care model was based on a patient-centered model of consultation modified according to the Calgary-Cambridge Guides, and the learning outcomes of the study program in medicine were taken into account. The VP primary care model is based on Kolb’s learning theories and consists of several learning cycles. Each learning cycle includes a didactic inventory and then provides the student with a concrete experience (video, pictures, and other material) and preformulated feedback. The students’ learning process was visualized by requiring the students to expose their clinical reasoning and reflections in-action in every learning cycle. Content analysis of the focus group interviews showed good acceptance of the model by students. The VP was regarded as an intermediate learning activity and a complement to both the theoretical and the clinical part of the education, filling out gaps in clinical knowledge. The content of the VP case was regarded as authentic and the students appreciated the immediate feedback. The students found the structure of the model interactive and easy to follow. The students also reported that the VP case supported their self-directed learning and reflective ability.
We have built a new VP model for primary care with embedded communication training and iterated learning cycles that in pilot testing showed good acceptance by students, supporting their self-directed learning and reflective thinking.
PMCID: PMC3906652  PMID: 24394603
virtual patients; clinical reasoning; reflection; primary care; medical education
21.  Association of Medical Students' Reports of Interactions with the Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Industries and Medical School Policies and Characteristics: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(10):e1001743.
Aaron Kesselheim and colleagues compared US medical students' survey responses regarding pharmaceutical company interactions with the schools' AMSA PharmFree scorecard and Institute on Medicine as a Profession's (IMAP) scores.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Professional societies use metrics to evaluate medical schools' policies regarding interactions of students and faculty with the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. We compared these metrics and determined which US medical schools' industry interaction policies were associated with student behaviors.
Methods and Findings
Using survey responses from a national sample of 1,610 US medical students, we compared their reported industry interactions with their schools' American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard and average Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) Conflicts of Interest Policy Database score. We used hierarchical logistic regression models to determine the association between policies and students' gift acceptance, interactions with marketing representatives, and perceived adequacy of faculty–industry separation. We adjusted for year in training, medical school size, and level of US National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding. We used LASSO regression models to identify specific policies associated with the outcomes. We found that IMAP and AMSA scores had similar median values (1.75 [interquartile range 1.50–2.00] versus 1.77 [1.50–2.18], adjusted to compare scores on the same scale). Scores on AMSA and IMAP shared policy dimensions were not closely correlated (gift policies, r = 0.28, 95% CI 0.11–0.44; marketing representative access policies, r = 0.51, 95% CI 0.36–0.63). Students from schools with the most stringent industry interaction policies were less likely to report receiving gifts (AMSA score, odds ratio [OR]: 0.37, 95% CI 0.19–0.72; IMAP score, OR 0.45, 95% CI 0.19–1.04) and less likely to interact with marketing representatives (AMSA score, OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.15–0.69; IMAP score, OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.14–0.95) than students from schools with the lowest ranked policy scores. The association became nonsignificant when fully adjusted for NIH funding level, whereas adjusting for year of education, size of school, and publicly versus privately funded school did not alter the association. Policies limiting gifts, meals, and speaking bureaus were associated with students reporting having not received gifts and having not interacted with marketing representatives. Policy dimensions reflecting the regulation of industry involvement in educational activities (e.g., continuing medical education, travel compensation, and scholarships) were associated with perceived separation between faculty and industry. The study is limited by potential for recall bias and the cross-sectional nature of the survey, as school curricula and industry interaction policies may have changed since the time of the survey administration and study analysis.
As medical schools review policies regulating medical students' industry interactions, limitations on receipt of gifts and meals and participation of faculty in speaking bureaus should be emphasized, and policy makers should pay greater attention to less research-intensive institutions.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Making and selling prescription drugs and medical devices is big business. To promote their products, pharmaceutical and medical device companies build relationships with physicians by providing information on new drugs, by organizing educational meetings and sponsored events, and by giving gifts. Financial relationships begin early in physicians' careers, with companies providing textbooks and other gifts to first-year medical students. In medical school settings, manufacturers may help to inform trainees and physicians about developments in health care, but they also create the potential for harm to patients and health care systems. These interactions may, for example, reduce trainees' and trained physicians' skepticism about potentially misleading promotional claims and may encourage physicians to prescribe new medications, which are often more expensive than similar unbranded (generic) drugs and more likely to be recalled for safety reasons than older drugs. To address these and other concerns about the potential career-long effects of interactions between medical trainees and industry, many teaching hospitals and medical schools have introduced policies to limit such interactions. The development of these policies has been supported by expert professional groups and medical societies, some of which have created scales to evaluate the strength of the implemented industry interaction policies.
Why Was This Study Done?
The impact of policies designed to limit interactions between students and industry on student behavior is unclear, and it is not known which aspects of the policies are most predictive of student behavior. This information is needed to ensure that the policies are working and to identify ways to improve them. Here, the researchers investigate which medical school characteristics and which aspects of industry interaction policies are most predictive of students' reported behaviors and beliefs by comparing information collected in a national survey of US medical students with the strength of their schools' industry interaction policies measured on two scales—the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) PharmFree Scorecard and the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) Conflicts of Interest Policy Database.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers compared information about reported gift acceptance, interactions with marketing representatives, and the perceived adequacy of faculty–industry separation collected from 1,610 medical students at 121 US medical schools with AMSA and IMAP scores for the schools evaluated a year earlier. Students at schools with the highest ranked interaction policies based on the AMSA score were 63% less likely to accept gifts as students at the lowest ranked schools. Students at the highest ranked schools based on the IMAP score were about half as likely to accept gifts as students at the lowest ranked schools, although this finding was not statistically significant (it could be a chance finding). Similarly, students at the highest ranked schools were 70% less likely to interact with sales representatives as students at the lowest ranked schools. These associations became statistically nonsignificant after controlling for the amount of research funding each school received from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). Policies limiting gifts, meals, and being a part of speaking bureaus (where companies pay speakers to present information about the drugs for dinners and other events) were associated with students' reports of receiving no gifts and of non-interaction with sales representatives. Finally, policies regulating industry involvement in educational activities were associated with the perceived separation between faculty and industry, which was regarded as adequate by most of the students at schools with such policies.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that policies designed to limit industry interactions with medical students need to address multiple aspects of these interactions to achieve changes in the behavior and attitudes of trainees, but that policies limiting gifts, meals, and speaking bureaus may be particularly important. These findings also suggest that the level of NIH funding plays an important role in students' self-reported behaviors and their perceptions of industry, possibly because institutions with greater NIH funding have the resources needed to implement effective policies. The accuracy of these findings may be limited by recall bias (students may have reported their experiences inaccurately), and by the possibility that industry interaction policies may have changed in the year that elapsed between policy grading and the student survey. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that limitations on gifts should be emphasized when academic medical centers refine their policies on interactions between medical students and industry and that particular attention should be paid to the design and implementation of policies that regulate industry interactions in institutions with lower levels of NIH funding.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The UK General Medical Council provides guidance on financial and commercial arrangements and conflicts of interest as part of its good medical practice document, which describes what is required of all registered doctors in the UK
Information about the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) Just Medicine campaign (formerly the PharmFree campaign) and about the AMSA Scorecard is available
Information about the Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) and about its Conflicts of Interest Policy Database is also available
“Understanding and Responding to Pharmaceutical Promotion: A Practical Guide” is a manual prepared by Health Action International and the World Health Organization that medical schools can use to train students how to recognize and respond to pharmaceutical promotion
The US Institute of Medicine's report “Conflict of Interest in Medical Research, Education, and Practice” recommends steps to identify, limit, and manage conflicts of interest
The ALOSA Foundation provides evidence-based, non-industry-funded education about treating common conditions and using prescription drugs
PMCID: PMC4196737  PMID: 25314155
22.  Practicing doctors' perceptions on new learning objectives for Vietnamese medical schools 
As part of the process to develop more community-oriented medical teaching in Vietnam, eight medical schools prepared a set of standard learning objectives with attention to the needs of a doctor working with the community. Because they were prepared based on government documents and the opinions of the teachers, it was necessary to check them with doctors who had already graduated and were working at different sites in the community.
Each of the eight medical faculties asked 100 practising recent graduates to complete a questionnaire to check the relevance of the skills that the teachers considered most important. We used mean and standard deviation to summarize the scores rated by the respondents for each skill and percentile at four points: p50, p25, p10 and p5 to describe the variation of scores among the respondents. Correlation coefficient was used to measure the relationship between skill levels set by the teachers and the perception of practicing doctors regarding frequency of using skills and priority for each skill. Additional information was taken from the records of focus group discussions to clarify, explain or expand on the results from the quantitative data.
In many cases the skills considered important by teachers were also rated as highly necessary and/or frequently used by the respondents. There were, however, discrepancies: some skills important to teachers were seldom used and not considered important by the doctors. In focus group discussions the doctors also identified skills that are not taught at all in the medical schools but would be needed by practising doctors.
Although most of the skills and skill levels included in the learning objectives by the teachers were consistent with the opinions of their graduates, the match was not perfect. The experience of the graduates and their additional comments should be included as inputs to the definition of learning objectives for medical students.
PMCID: PMC1925073  PMID: 17597544
23.  The Effect of Videotaping Students' Interviews with Patients for Interview Skill Education 
The importance of communication between patients and physicians has been proven in many previous studies. The authors analyzed the effect of interview skill education through videotapes which recorded students' interviews with real patients in the outpatient department of family medicine.
This study was conducted with all students who chose the elective course of family medicine and one randomly selected student every week from an 'infectious internal medicine' class at Dongguk University Ilsan Hospital during the period from December 2008 to March 2011. All students performed a preliminary examination of a new patient at the outpatient department of family medicine. All consultations were videotaped. Feedback to the student was given on the same day by viewing the videotape together. After feedback, all students performed another preliminary examination of one new patient at the department of family medicine the same week. Three family medicine residents scored all videotapes using 10-item interview skill checklists. Many parts of the checklists were modified using the Arizona Clinical Interview Rating Scales.
Thirty-three students participated. Of 10 items, nine showed increased scores after feedback. There was a significant change in four items after feedback: 'type of question' (before 2.36 ± 0.60, after 2.73 ± 0.72), 'timeline' (before 2.82 ± 0.68, after 3.18 ± 0.73), 'positive verbal reinforcement' (before 2.24 ± 0.56, after 2.61 ± 0.90), and the total score (before 21.70 ± 2.62, after 23.39 ± 3.13) (P < 0.05).
Giving feedback to medical school students on medical interview skills using videotapes of students' preliminary consultations with real patients in outpatient settings, was effective in improving the interview areas of 'type of question,' 'timeline,' 'positive verbal reinforcement,' and the total interview scores.
PMCID: PMC3611108  PMID: 23560207
Medical Schools; Undergraduate Education; Outpatients; Communication; Videotape Recording
24.  Courteous but not curious: how doctors' politeness masks their existential neglect. A qualitative study of video-recorded patient consultations 
Journal of Medical Ethics  2011;37(11):650-654.
To study how doctors care for their patients, both medically and as fellow humans, through observing their conduct in patient–doctor encounters.
Qualitative study in which 101 videotaped consultations were observed and analysed using a Grounded Theory approach, generating explanatory categories through a hermeneutical analysis of the taped consultations.
A 500-bed general teaching hospital in Norway.
71 doctors working in clinical non-psychiatric departments and their patients.
The doctors were concerned about their patients' health and how their medical knowledge could be of service. This medical focus often over-rode other important aspects of the consultations, especially existential elements. The doctors actively directed the focus away from their patients' existential concerns onto medical facts and rarely addressed the personal aspects of a patient's condition, treating them in a biomechanical manner. At the same time, however, the doctors attended to their patients with courteousness, displaying a polite and friendly attitude and emphasising the relationship between them.
The study suggests that the main failing of patient–doctor encounters is not a lack of courteous manners, but the moral offence patients experience when existential concerns are ignored. Improving doctors' social and communication skills cannot resolve this moral problem, which appears to be intrinsically bound to modern medical practice. Acknowledging this moral offence would, however, be the first step towards minimising the effects thereof.
PMCID: PMC3198010  PMID: 21610269
Applied and professional ethics; philosophy of medicine; professional—professional relationship
25.  Developing Communication Skills for the General Practice Consultation Process 
Medical curriculum revisions all over the world in the last 20 years have increased the number of teaching hours in communication skills. This article describes a concrete communication skills teaching programme focused on general practice. Since the spring of 1992, more than 2,000 physicians from Denmark, Sweden and Finland have attended courses within this programme in Kalymnos, Greece. The training mainly takes place in groups of 8 doctors and 1 supervisor. The skills training is based on video feedback using the Window Supervision Method described here. We have identified several classical pitfalls for the doctor which this training programme seeks to address. We have also defined the 9 steps in an effective consultation process, which are given the acronym PRACTICAL. The major issue is to discriminate between the patient’s, the doctor’s and the shared part of the communication process. In our experience, this model shortens the consultation time to c. 15 minutes as doctors collaborate with their patients and build up an agreed agenda in order to deal effectively with the main problems of the patients.
PMCID: PMC3074725  PMID: 21509251
General practice; Communication; Skills

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