What is it about?

How do physicians, at the level of consultants, perceive their communication skills? We have assessed their communication skills through a self-rated questionnaire used in previous studies, but it was targeted to the medical trainees. Out of the 101 physicians, only around a third of them rated themselves as excellent. The highest scores were for the skills of encouraging patients to ask questions, while the lowest scores were for disclosing clinical information. Moreover, compared to female physicians, male physicians rated themselves better in explaining things to patients; and, non-surgical physicians rated themselves better in expressing interest in patients than surgical physicians.

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Why is it important?

Given the complexity of cases encountered at tertiary care hospitals, communication skills pose special attention. Consultants have to deal with delivering bad news to the patients and their families, e.g., disclosing terminal illness, treatment failure, or issues of transfer of care. How do consultants perceive their communication skills will not only provide insight into how confident they are in delivering bad news but also can assess their perceived skills that need improvement or further assessment with other communication skills assessment methods (e.g., by patients' rating or observer ratings).


Only the third of consultants perceived excellent rating for their communication skills. In literature, different reasons were postulated, including self-criticism and declined performance (More details can be found in the manuscript). While training in communication skills is important, self-perception of these skills can provide insight on strengths, weaknesses, and training opportunities. In our study, for example, disclosing clinical information was rated the lowest among the other skills. Further studies on these skills and how to improve them are warranted.

Dr Ahmad Saad Alzahrani
King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Perceived Communication Skills Among Tertiary Care Physicians, Medical Science Educator, June 2019, Springer Science + Business Media, DOI: 10.1007/s40670-019-00764-8.
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