Purpose: Studies show that residents trained in patient-centered interviewing (PCI) are more effective in handling patients' emotions and are more skillful in gathering patients' data. This study evaluated the long-term use of PCI skills.
Method: Fourteen residents received PCI training during internship, and their skills were evaluated before, immediately after, and two years after their training through directly observed patient interviews. A confidential survey evaluated the residents' actual use of PCI two years after the intensive training. Control groups of 14 interns prior to PCI training and 14 residents from another program not trained in PCI were also surveyed.
Results: Residents' use of PCI skills (optimization of setting, establishment of narrative thread, open-to-closed-ended questioning cone, avoid asking more than one question at a time, and (facilitation) were significantly improved, even two years after their training in PCI. The residents who received intensive block training reported using PCI techniques more frequently than did those in the control groups. However, the only significant difference in use of PCI skills between the intervention and control groups was found in reflection of patient's emotions.
Conclusion: Medical residents retained PCI skills for two years. Further studies are needed to determine whether successful postgraduate training of physicians in PCI translates into a change in behaviors during their professional lives.