JOURNAL ARTICLE

A qualitative study to explore undergraduate medical students' attitudes towards communication skills learning

C E Rees, C E Sheard, A C McPherson
Medical Teacher 2002, 24 (3): 289-93
12098416
This qualitative study explores medical students' attitudes towards communication skills learning. Thirty-two medical students, including representatives from each year of the medical degree, participated in five focus-group discussions. Theme analysis of each transcript by two independent analysts produced two attitude-related themes: positive attitudes towards communication skills and negative attitudes towards learning communication skills. Students held both positive and negative attitudes towards different aspects of communication skills learning. Students' negative attitudes were related to communication skills being a subjective social science, which was viewed as 'non-academic' and 'common sense'. Students with negative attitudes towards communication skills learning were thought to be good communicators. Some reported being socialized into developing the negative attitudes held by older students and qualified doctors. The timing of communication skills learning was also thought to be important in determining attitudes. The findings within each of these themes and their educational implications are discussed in this paper.

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