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date: 18 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

How clinicians communicate during medical interactions has been shown to have a significant impact on the clinician-patient relationship, as well as on patient and healthcare outcomes. This essay provides an overview of the importance of effective communication in healthcare, focusing specifically on skills needed in the explanation and planning component of the consultation and explores in detail how best to teach communication skills to practicing health professionals. It draws on available evidence from general educational literature, as well as specific literature on communication skills training (CST) to delineate how educational interventions should be organized in order to enhance clinicians’ communication skills learning and practice. CST interventions need to be learner- and practice-centered and include core conceptual knowledge and experiential opportunities for practice, reflection, feedback, and rehearsal. Implementation of effective CST also needs to take into consideration appropriate educational strategies and both the timing and location of training programs. The essay ends by identifying challenges and future directions in CST.

Keywords: physician-patient communication, communication skills training, experiential learning, explanation and planning, patient education

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