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Scand J Occup Ther. 2019 May;26(4):273-282. doi: 10.1080/11038128.2018.1496272. Epub 2018 Aug 19.

The association between undergraduate occupational therapy students' listening and interpersonal skills and performance on practice education placements.

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a Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Primary and Allied Health Care, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences , Monash University , Frankston , Australia.



Communication skills such as listening, empathy and body language are core competencies that entry level occupational therapy students must demonstrate when completing practice placements.


To investigate if interpersonal skills taught to undergraduate occupational therapy students predict their practice performance.


Second, third and fourth year occupational therapy students (n = 132) completed the Active-Empathetic Listening Scale (AELS); the Listening Styles Profile-Revised (LSP-R); and the Interpersonal Communication Competence Scale (ICCS). The Student Practice Evaluation Form-Revised (SPEF-R) measured students' performance at the completion of a placement. Regression analysis examined the relationships between students' interpersonal and listening skills and their fieldwork performance.


Higher ICCS Interaction Management subscale scores were significantly associated with better SPEF-R Communication Skills at final evaluation (β = 1.46, p < 0.05). Higher AELS Sensing subscale scores were predictive of greater Self-Management Skill performance on the SPEF-R (β = 0.84, SE = 0.42). Student's demographic characteristics were also predictive of their SPEF-R scores. The ICCS and LSP-R's subscale scores were not predictive of SPEF-R scores.


This preliminary evidence identified several interpersonal skills that were predictive of some key SPEF-R competencies. To better prepare students to successfully complete practice placements, these interpersonal skills should be incorporated into occupational therapy education curriculum.


Students; communication; listening skills; practice education; professional competencies

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