Physicians and patients perceive good communication differently

Family physicians have a different view of what constitutes good communication compared to patients and trained clinical raters. In a study from the University of Cambridge, 45 family physicians and 503 patients independently completed a questionnaire assessing physician communication quality immediately after their visits. Patient visits were video recorded and 55 were selected for assessment by trained clinical raters. Physicians' ratings of themselves were, on average, lower than patients' ratings (mean physician score 75; mean patient score 94). Sixty-three percent (319) of patients assigned physicians the maximum score of 100, while the mean trained rater score was 57. There was a near-zero correlation coefficient between communication scores of physicians and patients and between physicians and trained raters, and a moderate and statistically significant association between patients and trained raters. The authors suggest that the generally high scores assigned by patients could reflect a reluctance to report poor experiences and highlights the need for external peer assessment of communication skills in order to identify areas in which support and training are needed.


The Evaluation of Physicians' Communication Skills From Multiple Perspectives
Jenni Burt, PhD, et al
University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

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