Further analysis of a doctor-patient nonverbal communication instrument

Timothy J Gallagher, Paul J Hartung, Holly Gerzina, Stanford W Gregory, Dave Merolla
Patient Education and Counseling 2005, 57 (3): 262-71
This study examines the reliability and validity of the relational communication scale for observational measurement (RCS-O) using a random sample of 80 videotaped interactions of medical students interviewing standardized patients (SPs). The RCS-O is a 34-item instrument designed to measure the nonverbal communication of physicians interacting with patients. The instrument was applied and examined in two different interview scenarios. In the first scenario (year 1), the medical student's interview objective is to demonstrate patient-centered interviewing skills as the SP presents with a psychosocial concern. In the second scenario (year 3), the student's interview objective is to demonstrate both doctor-centered and patient-centered skills as the SP presents with a case common in primary care. In the year 1 scenario, 19 of the 34 RCS-O items met acceptable levels of inter-rater agreement and reliability. In the year 3 scenario, 26 items met acceptable levels of inter-rater agreement and reliability. Factor analysis indicated that in both scenarios each of the four primary relational communication dimensions was salient: intimacy, composure, formality, and dominance. Measures of correlation and differences involving the RCS-O dimensions and structural features of the interviews (e.g., number of questions asked by the medical student) are examined.

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