, Volume 159, Issue 7, pp 489-495

Effects of continuing paediatric education in interpersonal communication skills

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Paediatric care places great demands on interpersonal communication skills, especially as regards the handling of psychosocial issues. Recent shifts in paediatric morbidity and increases in patient empowerment furthermore emphasize the need for continuing paediatric education in communication skills. It is, however, debatable, whether after residency paediatric education can influence paediatrician performance. This study evaluated the effects of a 5-day experiential communication training by means of a pretest/post-test control group design. A total of 21 consulting paediatricians (10 experimental, 11 control group paediatricians) videotaped two series of consecutive outpatient encounters. Compared with the untrained control group, trained paediatricians asked more psychosocial questions and looked at the patients and their parents more often. In addition, they gave patients and parents more room to talk. No difference was found in the length of the outpatient visits.

Conclusion Paediatric education after residency influences paediatricians' verbal and nonverbal communication skills positively, especially as regards handling psychosocial issues. On the basis of these findings, it appears worthwhile to encourage continuing paediatric education in interpersonal communication skills.

Received: 13 July 1999 and in revised form: 30 September 1999 and 9 December 1999/Accepted: 10 December 1999