Communication skills training for emergency medicine residents

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ObjectiveTo determine the effects of a communication skills training program on emergency medicine residents and patient satisfaction.Materials and methodsTwenty emergency medicine residents attended a 6-week psychoeducation program that was intended to improve their communication skills. The first three sessions of the psychoeducation program consisted of theoretical education on empathy and communication. Other sessions covered awareness, active communication, and empathic skills on a cognitive behavioral basis using discussion, role play, and homework within an interactive group. The effects of the program were assessed using a communication skills scale, empathy scale, and patient satisfaction survey and were reflected by the reduction in the number of undesirable events between doctors and patients in the emergency department.ResultsThe mean communication skills score increased from 178.7±19 to 189.2±16 after training (P<0.02). Empathy score also increased from 29.5±9 to 30.7±8, but this difference was not statistically significant (P=0.1). The patient satisfaction survey of 576 patients demonstrated increased scores on confidence in the doctor (88.2±14.6–93.6±10.3; P<0.01); the doctor's respect, kindness, and thoughtfulness (90.3±10.8–94.1±16.5; P<0.01); individualized attention (86.7±9.4–93.9±11.1; P<0.01); devotion of adequate time to listening (88.6±12.3–90.8±14.1; P=0.04); and counseling and information delivery (90.1±11.3–92.2±11.7; P=0.02). The number of undesirable events between doctors and patients decreased 75% from 12 to three.ConclusionParticipation in a communication skills training program was associated with improved communication skills of emergency medicine residents, increased patient satisfaction, and decreased complaints.

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