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Br Dent J. 2000 Jan 8;188(1):40-4.

Development and preliminary evaluation of an instrument designed to assess dental students' communication skills.

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Department of Dental Medicine and Surgery, University of Manchester, UK.


The aim of this study was to develop, and assess the inter-observer reliability of an instrument for evaluating dental students' communication skills. Methods used were process-tracking of interactions between experienced practitioners and patients, development of the instrument and its simultaneous use by two researchers observing 43 third year dental students prior to communication skills training. The results found that the instrument was appropriate for the purpose for which it was designed, and was easy to utilise. There were no significant differences between observers' total scores. Item-specific weighted kappa scores showed almost perfect agreement between observers for all but four of the 31 items. The lowest interobserver weighted kappa score was for the measurement of eye contact (k = 0.60). In conclusion, assessment of communication skills is now a necessity in the undergraduate curriculum. Preliminary analysis of an instrument of communication skills in the dental surgery indicates that it may be possible to do this reliably.

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