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Training Doctors May Be Failing in Communicating with Patients

Doctors-in-training may not be practicing proper bedside manner, a study published in Journal of Hospital Medicine has shown. The study examined the practices of interns and residents, and specifically focused on 5 communication skills: “introducing one’s self, explaining one’s role in the patient’s care, touching the patient, asking open-ended questions, and sitting down with the patient.” Researchers sent in trained observers to follow 29 training doctors and then asked training doctors to report on their own behavior. The findings showed that while residents touched their patients 65% of the time and asked open-ended questions 70% of the time, they introduced themselves only 40% of the time, explained their role only 37% of the time, and sat down during only 9 % of visits. Residents were also more likely to overemphasize the frequency with which they practiced these communication skills. The results suggest that more emphasis should be placed on etiquette-based communication in order to improve the patient experience.

Read the study in Journal of Hospital Medicine.