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Aust Fam Physician. 2014 Mar;43(3):156-8.

The art of communication.

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MBBS (Hons), FRACGP, GradCertLTHealth Professionals, Associate Professor, School of Medicine; and Director, Student Development and Support (MBBS Program), School of Medicine University of Tasmania.



Effective communication is an essential skill in general practice consultations. The art of communication is the development of effective skills and finding a style of communication that suits the clinician and produces benefits for both patient and doctor.


This paper outlines the essential skills required for effective communication with a patient and suggests that clinicians consider this communication as an art that can be developed throughout a medical career.


Good communication can improve outcomes for patients and doctors, and deserves equal importance as developing clinical knowledge and procedural skill. The importance of good communication is so critical that Australian guidelines list effective communication as part of the required conduct for all doctors. A therapeutic patient-doctor relationship uses the clinician as a therapeutic intervention and is part of the art of communication. Despite all the technological advances of recent decades, caring, compassionate, healing doctors remain the best therapeutic tool in medicine. The ability of a doctor to provide comfort through their presence and their words is a fundamental component of good medical care.

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