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Title: Enhancing communication skills and psychological understanding of patients
Author: Rhodes, Nick
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1997
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The medical profession has begun to acknowledge that doctors' communication skills are often inadequate, and that this has important consequences in regard to patient satisfaction, diagnostic accuracy, treatment compliance and treatment outcome. It has been shown that communication skills can be taught successfully to medical students, and medical schools now incorporate the subject in the curriculum. Drawing on literature which suggests that medical education can be dehumanizing, the present thesis argues that an approach to doctor - patient communication based entirely on the acquisition of skills glosses over underlying issues of attitudes to patients. It is proposed than an intervention at the attitudinal level may bring about a more genuine enhancement of teaching skills. An approach based on psychodynamic ideas of the doctor - patient relationship is outlined. A randomized controlled trial was conducted with 48 second year medical students to evaluate the relative effects on communication skills, attitudes to patients and psychological-mindedness of a course in psychodynamic concepts, a course in counselling skills, or allocation to a wait-list control group. Although there were improvements in the whole sample from pre- to post-test on measures of communication skills and psychological-mindedness, there were no statistically significant differences between the groups in the degree to which they changed on these measures. No conclusions can be drawn as to the efficacy of teaching psychodynamic concepts in terms of enhancing doctor-patient communication; however, it is suggested that the pattern of results implies that further research may be fruitful.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available