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Pre‐registration dietetic students’ attitudes to learning communication skills

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Abstract:



How to cite this article Power B.T. & Lennie S.C. (2012) Pre‐registration dietetic students’ attitudes to learning communication skills. J Hum Nutr Diet. 25, 189–197
Abstract

Background:  Communication is a core skill and a prerequisite for dietitians’ clinical competence. It is generally acknowledged that communication skills can be taught and learned. There is a paucity of published work identifying dietetic students’ attitudes towards learning communication skills, and understanding this is important.

Methods:  The present cross‐sectional study aimed to address this issue using an adapted version of the Communication Skills Attitude Scale (CSAS), which was designed to capture information concerning positive and negative attitudes to learning communication skills. An online questionnaire was sent to all undergraduate and post‐graduate dietetic programmes in the UK.

Results:  Of the students’ solicited for enrolment in the study, 33.4% (n = 300) completed the questionnaire. A one‐way analysis of variance showed attitudes to learning communication skills differed significantly between years of study on both subscales of the CSAS. Subsequent analyses indicated that first‐year students’ attitudes to learning communication skills were significantly more positive than those of fourth‐year students (P = 0.042). Third‐year students had significantly more positive attitudes to learning communication skills than fourth‐year students (P = 0.028). Negative attitudes were also linked to the year of study with fourth‐year students having significantly more negative attitudes than third‐year students (P = 0.046). Sex, practice placement experience and parental occupation did not significantly influence attitudes to learning communication skills.

Conclusions:  These findings indicate that efforts are required to maintain positive attitudes to learning communication skills. Further longitudinal studies are recommended in this respect.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2012.01226.x

Affiliations: School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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