Author: Morris M, O’ Cairdha C, Donohoe G and Hennessy M Publication Year: 2013
Summary: Research indicates that students struggle to transfer class room taught communication skills into clinical practice. The aim of this study is to investigate medical student's communication skills at the bedside from the perspectives of behavioural scientists, patients and students self-assessment.
Description: Abstract

Background: Research indicates that students struggle to transfer class room taught communication skills into the reality of clinical practice. Students have been shown to be poor at self assessment of communication skills with over or under estimation of ability.

Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate medical student's actual communication skills at the bedside from the perspectives of behavioural scientists, patients and students self assessment. A validated Calgary-Cambridge observation tool was utilised.

Results: Patients and experts report clear evidence of classroom taught skills being utilised clinically. The median scores achieved were similar with Tutors reporting 64.5 %, (Q1, 59.5: Q3, 70.75), Patients 64% (Q1, 56.25: Q3, 71) and students' self- assessment at 63% (Q1, 56: Q3, 68), Range 0-100%. Students underestimated their skills in ‘initiation of interview’, ‘gathering information’ and ‘building structure’. Students overestimated their abilities in ‘understanding the patients' perspective’, ‘building a relationship’ and ‘closing the interview’. Within the interview a large correlation of 0.584 was determined between the tutors and patients (p<0.001). There was no correlation between students self assessments and tutor or patient assessments.

Conclusions: Medical students can transfer classroom taught skills to the clinical setting to the satisfaction of faculty and patients. Students in the early years of training are poor at self - assessing actual ability in some aspects of communication skills concurring with previous findings. Patients had good agreement with Tutors.

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