A longitudinal study of third-year medical students’ communication competence, communication anxiety, and attitudes toward patient-centered care

Anna M. Kerr, Charee M. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: We investigated changes in medical students’ communication competence and communication anxiety during their third year of training when they are immersed in formative clinical experiences that shape their patient-centered care and communication skills. Methods: We invited 282 students to complete a longitudinal, four-phase online survey during their third-year. Our response rate was 62.8% at Phase I (n = 177), 34.0% at Phase II (n = 96), 37.9% at Phase III (n = 107), and 48.9% at Phase IV (n = 138). Measures included communication competence, communication anxiety, and patient-centered attitudes and orientation. We employed hierarchical linear modeling to analyze the data. Results: Students’ communication competence and anxiety improved over time. Female students reported greater communication anxiety and less competence related to information giving. At each phase, patient-centered attitudes significantly predicted communication competence and communication anxiety. Conclusion: Students’ competence and anxiety regarding communication during medical encounters improve during their third year and are significantly influenced by their attitudes and orientation towards patient-centered care and communication. Practice implications: Schools should integrate curriculum that fosters positive attitudes toward patient-centered communication and provides opportunities to practice complex communication skills, which may increase competence and recognition that patient-centered communication is an important clinical skill.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Communication anxiety
  • Communication competence
  • Medical education
  • Patient-centered attitudes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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