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1.  Observed communication skills: how do they relate to the consultation content? A nation-wide study of graduate medical students seeing a standardized patient for a first-time consultation in a general practice setting 
Background
In this study, we wanted to investigate the relationship between background variables, communication skills, and the bio-psychosocial content of a medical consultation in a general practice setting with a standardized patient.
Methods
Final-year medical school students (N = 111) carried out a consultation with an actor playing the role of a patient with a specific somatic complaint, psychosocial stressors, and concerns about cancer. Based on videotapes, communication skills and consultation content were scored separately.
Results
The mean level of overall communication skills had a significant impact upon the counts of psychosocial issues, the patient's concerns about cancer, and the information and planning parts of the consultation content being addressed. Gender and age had no influence upon the relationship between communication skills and consultation content.
Conclusion
Communication skills seem to be important for final-year students' competence in addressing sensitive psychosocial issues and patients' concerns as well as informing and planning with patients being representative for a fairly complex case in general practice. This result should be considered in the design and incorporation of communication skills training as part of the curriculum of medical schools.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-43
PMCID: PMC2213643  PMID: 17996053
2.  Curriculum factors influencing knowledge of communication skills among medical students 
Background
Communication training builds on the assumption that understanding of the concepts related to professional communication facilitates the training. We know little about whether students' knowledge of clinical communication skills is affected by their attendance of communication training courses, or to what degree other elements of the clinical training or curriculum design also play a role. The aim of this study was to determine which elements of the curriculum influence acquisition of knowledge regarding clinical communication skills by medical students.
Methods
The study design was a cross-sectional survey performed in the four Norwegian medical schools with different curricula, spring 2003. A self-administered questionnaire regarding knowledge of communication skills (an abridged version of van Dalen's paper-and-pencil test) was sent to all students attending the four medical schools. A total of 1801 (59%) students responded with complete questionnaires.
Results
At the end of the 1st year of study, the score on the knowledge test was higher in students at the two schools running communication courses and providing early patient contact (mean 81%) than in the other two medical schools (mean 69–75%, P ≤ 0.001), with students studying a traditional curriculum scoring the lowest. Their scores increased sharply towards the end of the 3rd year, during which they had been subjected to extensive patient contact and had participated in an intensive communication course (77% vs. 72% the previous year, P ≤ 0.01). All students scored generally lower in academic years in which there was no communication training. However, at the end of the final year the difference between the schools was only 5% (81% vs. 86%, P ≤ 0.001).
Conclusion
The acquisition of knowledge regarding communication skills by medical students may be optimised when the training is given together with extensive supervised patient contact, especially if this teaching takes place in the initial years of the curriculum.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-35
PMCID: PMC2089059  PMID: 17925041
3.  Assessing medical students' attitudes towards learning communication skills – which components of attitudes do we measure? 
Background
The Communication Skills Attitudes Scale (CSAS) created by Rees, Sheard and Davies and published in 2002 has been a widely used instrument for measuring medical students' attitudes towards learning communication skills. Earlier studies have shown that the CSAS mainly tests two dimensions of attitudes towards communication; positive attitudes (PAS) and negative attitudes (NAS). The objectives of our study are to explore the attitudes of Norwegian medical students towards learning communication skills, and to compare our findings with reports from other countries.
Methods
The CSAS questionnaire was mailed simultaneously to all students (n = 3055) of the four medical schools in Norway in the spring of 2003. Response from 1833 students (60.0%) were analysed by use of SPSS ver.12.
Results
A Principal component analysis yielded findings that differ in many respects from those of earlier papers. We found the CSAS to measure three factors. The first factor describes students' feelings about the way communication skills are taught, whereas the second factor describes more fundamental attitudes and values connected to the importance of having communication skills for doctors. The third factor explores whether students feel that good communication skills may help them respecting patients and colleagues.
Conclusion
Our findings indicate that in this sample the CSAS measures broader aspects of attitudes towards learning communication skills than the formerly described two-factor model with PAS and NAS. This may turn out to be helpful for monitoring the effect of different teaching strategies on students' attitudes during medical school.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-7-4
PMCID: PMC1851955  PMID: 17394673
4.  Life satisfaction and resilience in medical school – a six-year longitudinal, nationwide and comparative study 
Background
This study examined the relationship between life satisfaction among medical students and a basic model of personality, stress and coping. Previous studies have shown relatively high levels of distress, such as symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts in medical undergraduates. However despite the increased focus on positive psychological health and well-being during the past decades, only a few studies have focused on life satisfaction and coping in medical students. This is the first longitudinal study which has identified predictors of sustained high levels of life satisfaction among medical students.
Methods
This longitudinal, nationwide questionnaire study examined the course of life satisfaction during medical school, compared the level of satisfaction of medical students with that of other university students, and identified resilience factors. T-tests were used to compare means of life satisfaction between and within the population groups. K-means cluster analyses were applied to identify subgroups among the medical students. Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and logistic regression analyses were used to compare the subgroups.
Results
Life satisfaction decreased during medical school. Medical students were as satisfied as other students in the first year of study, but reported less satisfaction in their graduation year. Medical students who sustained high levels of life satisfaction perceived medical school as interfering less with their social and personal life, and were less likely to use emotion focused coping, such as wishful thinking, than their peers.
Conclusion
Medical schools should encourage students to spend adequate time on their social and personal lives and emphasise the importance of health-promoting coping strategies.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-6-48
PMCID: PMC1592096  PMID: 16984638
5.  Which young physicians are satisfied with their work? A prospective nationwide study in Norway 
Background
Few studies have investigated personality and medical school variables in regard to job satisfaction after graduation. It is of great importance to investigate these factors because this information may be used in the recruitment/admittance process to medical schools, and possibly to improve medical education.
Methods
We conducted a nationwide prospective 10-year follow-up study of medical students at all medical schools in Norway. They were approached three times during their medical training: at very beginning (T1), in the middle (T2), in the last year of medical school (T3), and then four years after graduation (T4). There were 210 participants who responded on all four occasions. Job satisfaction was measured with the Job Satisfaction Scale, which was used as the outcome variable. In addition to conducting multiple regression analysis for the total sample, we also conducted similar analyses separately for men and women.
Results
Among the demographic and personality variables, 'having a father who is a physician' and 'interpersonal functioning (being withdrawn)' were significantly associated with job satisfaction at T4. Among the medical school variables, 'well-being with peers', 'identification with the doctor's role at the end of curriculum', 'perceived medical school stress', and 'perceived clinical skills' were significantly associated with job satisfaction. In the multiple regression analysis only 'father as a physician' and 'perceived clinical skills' yielded an independent influence on the outcome variable in separate analyses within sub-groups of male and female students, 'perceived clinical skills' differentiated among woman only, while 'well-being with peers' differentiated only among men.
Conclusion
The main finding of this study is that the young physicians who are the most satisfied in their work are those whose fathers are physicians and those who have a high level of perceived clinical skills at the end of medical school. There are also differences in regard to predictors of job satisfaction among men and women. These findings indicate that medical schools should invest substantial effort in clinical skills training, and this seems to be especially important among female students.
doi:10.1186/1472-6920-5-19
PMCID: PMC1164416  PMID: 15932648

Results 1-5 (5)