Factors associated with pharmacy students' attitudes towards learning communication skills – A study among Nordic pharmacy students

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Abstract

Introduction:

Good communication skills are essential for pharmacy students to help patients with their medicines. Students' attitudes towards communication skills learning will influence their willingness to engage in communication training, and their skills when dealing with patients later on in their professional life.

Objective:

The aim of this study was to explore Nordic pharmacy students' attitudes to communication skills learning, and the associations between those attitudes and various student characteristics.

Method and materials:

A cross-sectional questionnaire-based study was conducted in 11 Nordic pharmacy schools between April 2015 and January 2016. The overall response rate for the final study population was 77% (367 out of 479 students). Pharmacy students who had fulfilled all mandatory communication training and most of their pharmacy practical experience periods were included. The communication skills attitudes scale was the main outcome. Linear regression models were fitted with the outcome variable and various student characteristics as the predictors, using generalized estimating equations to account for clustering within pharmacy schools.

Results:

Nordic pharmacy students in general have moderately positive attitudes towards learning communication skills. Positive attitudes towards learning communication skills among pharmacy students were associated with being female (βadjusted 0.42, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.63, p < 0.001), following a newer pharmacy training program (βadjusted 0.81, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.98, p < 0.001), having higher self-rated need for communication skills improvement (βadjusted 0.50, 95% CI 0.30 to 0.71, p<0.001) and believing one's communication skills are not the result of personality (βadjusted −0.24, 95% CI −0.44 to −0.04, p=0.017).

Conclusion:

The study provides important information for faculty members responsible for curriculum improvements and teachers to refine their teaching of communication skills. From this, the teaching can be better tailored to suit different students. The students' chances of being able to effectively help patients in the future will be increased by that.

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