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Med Educ. 2010 Jul;44(7):653-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2923.2010.03632.x.

Impact of student ethnicity and patient-centredness on communication skills performance.

Author information

  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA 94143-0120, USA. Karen.hauer@ucsf.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The development of patient-centred attitudes by health care providers is critical to improving health care quality. A prior study showed that medical students with more patient-centred attitudes scored higher in communication skills as judged by standardised patients (SPs) than students with less patient-centred attitudes. We designed this multicentre study to examine the relationships among students' demographic characteristics, patient-centredness and communication scores on an SP examination.

METHODS:

Early Year 4 medical students at three US schools completed a 12-item survey during an SP examination. Survey items addressed demographics (gender, ethnicity, primary childhood language) and patient-centredness. Factor analysis on the patient-centredness items defined specific patient-centred attitudes. We used multiple regression analysis incorporating demographic characteristics, school and patient-centredness items and examined the effect of these variables on the outcome variable of communication score.

RESULTS:

A total of 351 students took the SP examination and 329 (94%) completed the patient-centredness questionnaire. Responses indicated generally high patient-centredness. Student ethnicity and medical school were significantly associated with communication scores; gender and primary childhood language were not. Two attitudinal factors were identified: patient perspective and impersonal attitude. Multiple regression analysis revealed that school and scores on the impersonal factor were associated with communication scores. The effect size was modest.

CONCLUSIONS:

In a medical student SP examination, modest differences in communication scores based on ethnicity were observed and can be partially explained by student attitudes regarding patient-centredness. Curricular interventions to enhance clinical experiences, teaching and feedback are needed to address key elements of a patient-centred approach to care.

PMID:
20636584
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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