Selected aspects of a professional doctor-patient communication – education and practice

Department of Informatics and Health Statistics, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland; Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology, University of Economics and Innovation, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2013;20(2):373–379
[b][i][/i][/b]Background: In the work of a physician, not only knowledge, and professional skills (technical/hard) are important, but also psychosocial skills (relational/soft). Objectives: The primary goal of the presented research was evaluation of the level (study of the state) of communication competences of physicians and determination of the factors on which this level depends. An additional goal was analysis of the needs and educational possibilities within the existing models of education in the area of interpersonal communication provided in Medical Universities in Poland. Design, setting and participants: Information about educational curricula available on the websites of 12 Medical Universities in Poland were compared. The self-designed questionnaire and adjective check list were subject to standardization from the aspect of reliability and validity. The study groups included 1) occupationally-active physicians (185 respondents) employed in outpatient departments and hospitals, who were covered by a pre-graduate standard educational programme and not trained in interpersonal communication skills as part of their continuing education; 2) medical students covered by a standard educational programme (246 respondents). Results: The conducted analysis of the educational curricula showed a very narrow scope of problems concerning professional medical communication. The results indicating the general state of respondents’ communication competences within all aspects (motivation, skills, knowledge) were relatively low. That clearly indicated an inadequate educational model (students), and lack of post-graduate training in the area of professional medical communication (physicians). Conclusions: The education of students of medicine should cover selected classes within the scope of professional communication competences. These classes should be based on the systemically designed training of skills. The patterning by students of the relations attitudes observed in practising physicians is insufficient. It is necessary to apply a methodical evaluation of communication competences, diagnosing educational needs of occupationally active physicians in this respect. This allows the preparation of courses in accordance with the needs in the area of professional communication competences.