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J Dent Educ. 2007 Sep;71(9):1203-9.

Use of the OSCE to evaluate brief communication skills training for dental students.

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  • 1Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.


Although communications competency is recommended by the American Dental Education Association, only a few (n=5) dental schools report evaluating students' skills using a competency examination for communication. This study used an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE) to evaluate dental students' competency in interpersonal and tobacco cessation communication skills. All students were evaluated on their interpersonal communication skills at baseline and at six months post-OSCE by standardized patients and on their tobacco cessation communication skills by two independent raters. First- and second-year dental students (n=104) were randomized to a control or intervention group. One month after the baseline OSCE, students in the intervention group participated in a two-hour training session in which faculty members communicated with a standardized patient during a head and neck examination and counseled the patient about tobacco cessation. There were no statistically significant differences from baseline to post-test between the intervention and control group students as measured by the OSCE. However, among first-year students, both the intervention (n=23) and control (n=21) groups significantly increased in tobacco cessation communication scores. Second-year students in both intervention (n=24) and control (n=28) groups declined in interpersonal communication skills from baseline to post-test. Overall, this one-shot intervention was not successful, and results suggest that a comprehensive communication skills training course may be more beneficial than a single, brief training session for improving dental students' communication skills.

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