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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 22  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 280

Residents' Perceived Needs in Communication Skills Training across In- and Outpatient Clinical Settings

1 Department of community medicine and primary care, Geneva University Hospitals, Switzerland
2 Medical Education Development and Research Unit, CMU, University of Geneva, Switzerland
3 Department of rehabilitation and geriatrics, University of Geneva, Switzerland
4 Department of internal medicine, University of Geneva, Switzerland
5 Department of education development and research, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Correspondence Address:
N Junod Perron
24 rue Micheli-du-Crest, 1211 Genève 14 , Switzerland
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 19953441

Context: Residents' perceived needs in communication skills training are important to identify before designing context-specific training programmes, since learrners' perceived needs can influence the effectiveness of training. Objectives: To explore residents' perceptions of their training needs and training experiences around communication skills, and whether these differ between residents training in inpatient and outpatient clinical settings. Methods: Four focus groups (FG) and a self-administered questionnaire were conducted with residents working in in- and outpatient medical service settings at a Swiss University Hospital. Focus groups explored residents' perceptions of their communication needs, their past training experiences and suggestions for future training programmes in communication skills. Transcripts were analysed in a thematic way using qualitative analytic approaches. All residents from both settings were asked to complete a questionnaire that queried their sociodemographics and amount of prior training in communication skills. Findings: In focus groups, outpatient residents felt that communication skills were especially useful in addressing chronic diseases and social issues. In contrast, inpatient residents emphasized the importance of good communication skills for dealing with family conflicts and end-of-life issues. Felt needs reflected residents' differing service priorities: outpatient residents saw the need for skills to structure the consultation and explore patients' perspectives in order to build therapeutic alliances, whereas inpatient residents wanted techniques to help them break bad news, provide information and increase their own well-being. The survey's overall response rate was 56%. Its data showed that outpatient residents received more training in communication skills and more of them than inpatient residents considered communication skills training to be useful (100% vs 74%). Discussion: Outpatient residents' perceived needs in communication skills were more patient-centered than the needs perceived by inpatient residents. Residents' perceived needs for communication skills may differ not only because of their differing service priorities but also because of differences in their previous experiences with communication skills training. These factors should be taken into account when designing a training programme in communication skills.

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