The effectiveness of a computer-assisted instruction programme on communication skills of medical specialists in oncology
Article first published online: 6 FEB 2002
Volume 36, Issue 2, pages 125–134, February 2002
How to Cite
Hulsman, R. L., Ros, W. J. G., Winnubst, J. A. M. and Bensing, J. M. (2002), The effectiveness of a computer-assisted instruction programme on communication skills of medical specialists in oncology. Medical Education, 36: 125–134. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2923.2002.01074.x
- Issue published online: 6 FEB 2002
- Article first published online: 6 FEB 2002
- Received 12 December 2000; editorial comments to authors 13 March 2001; accepted for publication 29 March 2001
- *Computer-assisted instruction;
- physician–patient relations;
- education, medical, graduate/*methods;
- medical oncology/*education
Although doctor–patient communication is important in health care, medical specialists are generally not well trained in communication skills. Conventional training programmes are generally time consuming and hard to fit into busy working schedules of medical specialists. A computer-assisted instruction (CAI) programme was developed – `Interact-Cancer' – which is a time-efficient learning method and easily accessible at the workplace.
To investigate the effect of the CAI training, `Interact-Cancer', on the communication behaviour of medical specialists, and on satisfaction of patients about their physician interaction.
Consultations of medical specialists with cancer outpatients were videotaped at 4 specific stages, 2 before and 2 after Interact-Cancer, with intervals of 4 weeks.
Participants were 21 medical specialists, mainly internists, working in 7 hospitals, and 385 cancer outpatients.
Communication behaviour was assessed on 23 observation categories derived from the course content. Frequencies were rated as well as judgements about the quality of the performance of each target skill. Satisfaction was measured by the Medical Interview Satisfaction Scale. Data were analyzed by means of multilevel statistical methods.
The behavioural assessment showed course effects on ratings of the physicians' quality of performance. No course effects were found on the frequencies of physicians' behaviours and on the patient satisfaction ratings.
CAI is a promising method to supply medical specialists with postgraduate training of communication skills. The application of judgement ratings of communication behaviour proved to be valuable to evaluate course effects in real-life patient encounters.