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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 45-50

Has the inclusion of a longitudinally integrated communication skills program improved consultation skills in medical students? A pilot study

1 Department of Family Medicine, Aga Khan University and Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan
2 Department of Medicine, Ziauddin University, Karachi, Pakistan
3 Department of Biochemistry, Fatima Memorial College of Medicine and Dentistry, Lahore, Pakistan
4 Department of Community Health Sciences, Aga Khan University and Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan
5 Department of Pathology, Aga Khan University and Hospital, Karachi, Pakistan

Correspondence Address:
Sameena Shah
Department of Family Medicine, Aga Khan University and Hospital, Stadium Road, Karachi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2249-4863.184622

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Background: Evidence highlights a lack of communication skills in doctors leading to dysfunctional consultations. To address this deficit, a private medical college instituted curricular reforms with inclusion of a longitudinal communication skills program. A pilot study was undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of this program by comparing the consultation skills of medical students of this college with a medical college without a communication skills program. Methods: A 4-station Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) was conducted in the third and final year. Mann-Whitney U-test was used to compare the difference in the distribution between OSCE stations total and construct scores. Results: At the end of the third year, 21 (31.34%), students of the study site (medical college 1 [college with integrated longitudinal communication skills program]) and 31 (46.26%) students from the comparison site (medical college 2 [comparable college without communication skills program]) consented. Medical college 1 achieved a significantly higher overall mean total station score of 68.0% (standard deviation [SD] =13.5) versus 57.2% (SD = 15.4) (P < 0.001). Significantly higher mean scores were achieved on three stations. At the end of the final year, 19 students (29.3%) from medical college 1 and 22 (34%) students from medical college 2 consented. The difference in overall mean total station score reduced from 9.2% to 7.1% (70.2) (SD = 13.7) versus 63.1 (SD = 15.2) (P = 0.004). The mean scores of both colleges decreased in "Patient presenting with Hepatitis C Report" station (P values 0.004 and 0.775) and in "Patient Request for Faith Healing Therapy in Diabetes Mellitus" station (P values 0.0046 and 0.036), respectively. Conclusion: Longitudinal communication skills in an undergraduate curriculum positively impacted consultation skills. Community-based training and faculty development are required to develop effective patient-centered consultation skills.

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