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COMMUNICATION
Year : 2004  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 163-171

Effects of a Course on Ophthalmologist Communication Skills: A Pilot Study


Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, San Paolo Hospital, University of Milan, Italy

Correspondence Address:
Elena Vegni
Chair of Medical Psychology, Department of Medicine, Surgery and Dentistry, San Paolo Hospital, Via di Rudiný` 8, 20142 Milan
Italy
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


Introduction: Although the issue of communication skills is now considered crucial for ophthalmology, no previous research has discussed training in this field. This study aimed to discuss the effects of a 16 hour communication skills course for ophthalmologists. In particular the study assessed the interest of participants with respect to the topic and the efficacy on participants' communication skills, at least in a laboratory setting. Materials and methods: Eleven ophthalmologists participated in the course. Learner satisfaction was evaluated using a questionnaire with a six-point Likert scale. Course efficacy was assessed by a comparison between communicative behaviour of ophthalmologists in videoed role playing before and immediately after attending the course. Videoed consultations were coded using the Patient Centred Score Sheet (PCSS) and the Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS). The Wilcoxon signed rank test was used for statistical analysis. Findings: The course obtained high satisfaction in participants (mean score 5.1). In the post test role playing, patient centredness increased significantly (p<0.01). Furthermore, ophthalmologists improved their competence in using open ended questions (p<0.02), process categories (e.g. orientation statement) (p<0.05) and social communication categories (e.g. personal statement) (p<0.01). Discussion: According to our findings, ophthalmologists did show satisfaction for the course. Results also indicate that the course positively influenced ophthalmologist communication competence, at least in a laboratory setting. After the course, participants became more attentive to patients' psychosocial needs, both in terms of general quality of consultation (patient centredness) and in terms of using specific interpersonal skills. Present results are considered preliminary, and further research is needed with a larger sample and including an evaluation of the effects on ophthalmologists' communication skills in clinical practice.


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