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Acad Med. 2000 Jul;75(7 Suppl):S45-54.

Communication skills for preventive interventions.

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Department of Community Health, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


Effective communication relevant to preventive services and practices has at its basis the physician's skills in not only basic history taking and data collection but also relationship building, facilitation, negotiation, and partnership. These skills, fundamental to doctor-patient communication, are now routinely and systematically taught in many U.S. medical schools. This article defines and examines a communication model for enhancing the provision and adoption of preventive practices in the primary care setting and discusses teaching that model in the medical school context. Within the office visit, broad areas for communication tasks important to providing preventive services are defined as: (1) the medical interview and preventive counseling; (2) working with patients to change unhealthy behaviors, promote healthy behaviors, and enhance adherence; and (3) communication related to office procedures for screening and prevention. Within each of these areas, communication and counseling skills and approaches are defined, and examples of associated prevention activities are provided. Methods for integrating communication skills for prevention into the medical school curriculum are discussed, and examples at Dartmouth, Brown, and MCP Hahnemann medical schools are presented.

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