Communicating wisely: teaching residents to communicate effectively with patients and caregivers about unnecessary tests.

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Communicating wisely: teaching residents to communicate effectively with patients and caregivers about unnecessary tests.

BMC Med Educ. 2017 Dec 11;17(1):248

Authors: Mukerji G, Weinerman A, Schwartz S, Atkinson A, Stroud L, Wong BM

Abstract
BACKGROUND: With rising healthcare costs and a focus on quality, there is a growing need to promote resource stewardship in medical education. Physicians need to be able to communicate effectively with patients/caregivers seeking tests and treatments that are unnecessary. This study aimed to evaluate the impact of an interactive workshop on residents' knowledge of resource stewardship and communication skills when counseling patients/caregivers about requests for unnecessary testing.
METHODS: Participants were 83 Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residents at the University of Toronto in 2014-15. The evaluation compared resource stewardship knowledge and communication skills of 57 (69%) residents that attended the resource stewardship workshop to 26 residents (31%) who did not. Knowledge and communication skills assessment consisted of a written test and a structured assessment using standardized patient raters, respectively. A linear regression was applied to determine predictors of overall communication skills performance.
RESULTS: Workshop attendance resulted in better performance on the knowledge test (4.3 ± 1.9 vs. 3.1 ± 1.7 out of 8, p = 0.01), but not better performance on the communication skills assessment (4.1 ± 0.8 vs. 4.0 ± 0.9 out of 5, p = 0.56). Higher training level (p = 0.01) and knowledge test scores (p = 0.046) were independent predictors of better overall communication skills, after adjusting for gender, training level, workshop attendance, knowledge and self-reported prior feedback on communication skills.
CONCLUSIONS: An interactive workshop can improve knowledge of resource stewardship, but improving communication skills with patients/caregivers about unnecessary testing may require additional training or reinforcement in the clinical learning environment. These teaching and assessment approaches can support the integration of education on resource stewardship into medical education.

PMID: 29228940 [PubMed - in process]

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