Assessing communication skills of GP registrars: a comparison of patient and GP examiner ratings
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CONTEXT: General practice. OBJECTIVES: To compare ratings of GP registrars' communication skills by patients and GP examiners. DESIGN: A comparative study where the communication skills of GP registrars were assessed both by patients, using a validated tool called the Doctors' Interpersonal Skills Questionnaire (DISQ), and by GP examiners as part of the Fellowship examination of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). PARTICIPANTS: These included 138 GP registrars, 6075 patients, and more than 70 GP examiners. RESULTS: Spearman rank correlations were used to test the strength of the relationship between Fellowship examination and DISQ scores. Findings showed that there were several communication skills areas with mild (but significant) correlations between patient and GP examiner ratings. These areas included warmth of greeting, listening skills, respect, and concern for the patient as a person. No significant correlations were detected for explanation skills. Interestingly, the correlations between GP examiner and patient ratings were stronger for female GP registrars. CONCLUSION: There is some evidence that patients' ratings of GP registrars' communication skills is aligned to ratings made by GP examiners as part of the summative RACGP Fellowship examination. However, further work is required to assess the strength of this alignment, given that patient-doctor communication is assessed more widely through new components of the examination.