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Overcoming preconceptions and perceived barriers to medical communication using a ‘dual role-play’ training course

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Abstract Background: 

Communication is a core component of clinical competence. We introduced a dual role-play (DRP) course, in which participants role-played both the doctor-candidate and the standardized patient. The aim of the study was to assess the usefulness of a DRP communication course for physicians and to identify factors that inhibit effective medical communication. Methods: 

We conducted four medical communication skills courses from 2004 to 2006. A questionnaire was administered before and after completion of each course. We assessed respondents’ confidence levels before and after the course and sought to identify perceived barriers to effective communication among medical trainees in Singapore. Finally, we asked if they found participation in the course and its DRP nature to be useful. Results: 

Twenty-six participants, 20 men, 6 women, of mean age 30.2 years (standard deviation (SD) 2.01) completed the survey. The pre-course confidence levels (rated on a scale of 1–10) of 6.23 (SD 1.18) rose significantly to 7.58 (SD 0.95) on completion of the course (P = 0.001, Wilcoxon signed rank test). All respondents felt that they had benefited from participation in the medical communication skills course. 24 (92.3%) respondents deemed it useful to have role-played both the doctor and standardized patient in the exercise. We identified respondents with language difficulties to have benefited the most from the course (P = 0.031, odds ratio 2.906 (95%CI 0.292–5.519), linear regression analysis). Conclusion: 

DRP is an effective way to train doctors in medical communication.
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Keywords: communication; course; cross-over; dual; role-play

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Department of Medicine, National University Hospital, Singapore

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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