Medical student attitudes towards communication skills are important for curriculum planners and teachers. Xavier University School of Medicine (XUSOM) is a private medical school admitting students mainly from the United States and Canada.
Attitude of students towards communication skills has not been previously studied in the institution. Hence the present study was carried out.
The study was carried out among the first, second, third and fourth semester undergraduate medical (MD) students at XUSOM, Aruba during July 2013 using the communication skills attitude scale (CSAS). Respondents’ age, gender, nationality, occupation of parents, place of residence of family, semester of study were noted. The positive and negative attitude scale scores were calculated and compared among different subgroups of respondents (p<0.05).
Fifty-one of the seventy-three students (69.9 per cent) participated. The majority were between 20 to 25 years of age, of American nationality, from metro cities and had excellent or good self-perceived verbal and written communication skills. The mean positive attitude scale (PAS) score was 47.65 (maximum being 65) and the mean negative attitude scale (NAS) score was 31.06 (maximum 65). PAS score was significantly higher among respondents whose fathers were not in health related professions. NAS scores were significantly lower among the third and fourth semester respondents.
Students overall had a positive attitude towards communication skills but negative attitudes were also noted Based on results of the study and a review of literature we are planning to start communication skills learning in the institution right from the first semester and students will be provided opportunities for supervised practice during early clinical exposure, hospital observership and with standardised patients. The medical humanities module will be expanded and communication skills learning will continue during the clinical years with higher order skills being taught.