[Self-efficacy among doctors in hospitals after a course in clinical communication]

Pål Gulbrandsen, Bård Fossli Jensen, Arnstein Finset
Tidsskrift for Den Norske Lægeforening: Tidsskrift for Praktisk Medicin, Ny Række 2009 November 19, 129 (22): 2343-6

BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of research on clinical communication in hospitals. A large Norwegian hospital has tried out a course (developed in the USA) in clinical communication. In this substudy, we investigated the association between doctors' self-efficacy and participation in this course.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Doctors under 60 years of age, working in clinical somatic departments in Akershus University Hospital, were eligible for inclusion. The participants completed a validated questionnaire before and after the course. Self-efficacy was assessed (on a 10-point scale) through nine important communication skills.

RESULTS: 103 doctors (randomly selected) were asked to participate in the study; 62 of them completed the 20-hour course. After completion of the course, the participants were more confident that communication skills could be learnt in this way than they were before it started. Their self-efficacy only improved moderately, on average 0.6 on the 10-point scale, but the change was statistically significant for seven of the nine skills. After completion of the course, self-efficacy had improved for 41 doctors and deteriorated for ten. Nevertheless, the latter were still positive regarding the learning effect of the course. The effects were independent of the doctors' sex, age, position (resident or consultant), self-efficacy before the course, and specialty. Of the skills taught, demonstration of empathy was the one that fewest doctors wanted to practice after the course.

INTERPRETATION: A short course in clinical communication skills led to a moderate improvement in the participating doctors' self-efficacy. Whether this change implies improved communication is currently under investigation.

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