Rehabilitation-Specific Communication Skills Training: Improving the Physician-Patient Relationship

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Sliwa JA, Makoul G, Betts H: Rehabilitation-specific communication skills training: Improving the physician-patient relationship. Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2002;81:126–132.ObjectiveEvaluate the effectiveness of a rehabilitation-specific communication skills training program for physicians.DesignThree groups of rehabilitation patients were interviewed 3 mo after discharge, one group before and two groups after implementation of a communication skills training program. The setting was a free-standing rehabilitation hospital with a residency training program. A total of 245 patients who had been discharged from the rehabilitation hospital participated in the study. A communication skills training program that was designed specifically for physicians and patients in the rehabilitation setting was used as an intervention. Patients’ perceptions of the extent to which physicians accomplished 18 communication tasks highlighted by the training program were gauged in a structured telephone interview.ResultsParticipants interviewed after the training program was implemented more strongly agreed that their physicians accomplished the communication tasks assessed than did patients interviewed before the training program began. On 14 of 18 items, the differences were statistically significant (P < 0.05).ConclusionSpecialty-specific communication training can improve physician communication skills.

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