Verbal and non-verbal communication skills including empathy during history taking of undergraduate medical students

Beteiligte Einrichtungen


BACKGROUND: Verbal and non-verbal aspects of communication as well as empathy are known to have an important impact on the medical encounter. The aim of the study was to analyze how well final year undergraduate medical students use skills of verbal and non-verbal communication during history-taking and whether these aspects of communication correlate with empathy and gender.

METHODS: During a three steps performance assessment simulating the first day of a resident 30 medical final year students took histories of five simulated patients resulting in 150 videos of physician-patient encounters. These videos were analyzed by external rating with a newly developed observation scale for the verbal and non-verbal communication and with the validated CARE-questionnaire for empathy. One-way ANOVA, t-tests and bivariate correlations were used for statistical analyses.

RESULTS: Female students showed signicantly higher scores for verbal communication in the case of a female patient with abdominal pain (p < 0.05), while male students started the conversations significantly more often with an open question (p < 0.05) and interrupted the patients significantly later in two cases than female students (p < 0.05). The number of W-questions asked by all students was significantly higher in the case of the female patient with abdominal pain (p < 0.05) and this patient was interrupted after the beginning of the interview significantly earlier than the patients in the other four cases (p < 0.001). Female students reached significantly higher scores for non-verbal communication in two cases (p < 0.05) and showed significantly more empathy than male students in the case of the female patient with abdominal pain (p < 0.05). In general, non-verbal communication correlated significantly with verbal communication and with empathy while verbal communication showed no significant correlation with empathy.

CONCLUSIONS: Undergraduate medical students display differentiated communication behaviour with respect to verbal and non-verbal aspects of communication and empathy in a performance assessment and special differences could be detected between male and female students. These results suggest that explicit communication training and feedback might be necessary to raise students' awareness for the different aspects of communication and their interaction.

Bibliografische Daten

StatusVeröffentlicht - 03.07.2018
PubMed 29970069