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ORIGINAL RESEARCH PAPER
Year : 2012  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 165-171

Attitudes of Sri Lankan Medical Students toward Learning Communication Skills


1 Medical Education Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
2 Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Correspondence Address:
Kosala N Marambe
Medical Education Unit, Faculty of Medicine University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya - 20400
Sri Lanka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.109796

Introduction: The General Medical Council of the UK, advocates that by the end of their undergraduate course, medical students should be proficient in communicating with patients. However, the attitude of some medical students toward formal training in communication skills seems lukewarm. Although several studies on assessing attitudes of medical students on learning communication skills have been carried out in Europe and America, Asian studies are very few and literature in the Sri Lankan context is lacking. To explore the attitudes of first to fourth year medical students of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Peradeniya (FOMUP), Sri Lanka on learning communication skills and to identify possible factors that may influence student attitudes. Methods: A total of 675 students from year 1 to 4 of the FOMUP were asked to complete a modified version of the Communication Skills Attitude Scale. Items of its positive attitude scale (PAS) were analyzed together while negative items were considered individually. Results: Response rates ranged from 70% to 98% for the various year groups. There were no significant differences between the PAS for males and females and for those exposed to formal training and those who were not. The junior students scored significantly higher on the PAS than seniors. Most students of all the groups disagreed with the item "I don't see why I should learn communication skills". Approximately one-quarter of the students of each group endorsed the statement "Nobody is going to fail their medical degree for having poor communication skills". Out of the students who have undergone formal communication training, almost one-third agreed that they find it difficult to take communication skills learning seriously. Discussion: Although medical students seem to have realized the importance of communication skills training for the practice of medicine, a significant minority have reservations on attending such sessions. Sri Lanka faculty will need to make a concerted effort to change this attitude through improving teaching and assessment strategies.


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