Introduction: There is little research identifying medical students' attitudes towards communication skills learning. This pilot study outlines the development of a new scale to measure attitudes towards communication skills learning.
Methods: First- and second-year medical students (n = 490) completed the 26-item Communication Skills Attitude Scale (CSAS) and 39 students completed the CSAS on a second occasion. Factor analysis was conducted to determine the factors underpinning the scale. The internal consistency of the subscales was determined using alpha coefficients. The test-retest reliability of the individual scale items were determined using weighted kappa coefficients and the test-retest reliability of the subscales were established using intraclass correlation coefficients.
Results: Maximum likelihood extraction with direct oblimin rotation resulted in a 2-factor scale with 13 items on each subscale. Factor I represented positive attitudes towards communication skills learning and factor II represented negative attitudes. Subscale I had an internal consistency of alpha=0.873 and an intraclass correlation of 0.646 (P < 0.001). Subscale II had an internal consistency of alpha=0.805 and an intraclass correlation of 0.771 (P < 0.001). The majority of items on the positive (n=9, 69.2%) and the negative attitude subscales (n=8, 61.5%) possessed moderate test-retest reliability.
Discussion: The development of a new and reliable scale to identify medical students' attitudes towards communication skills learning will enable researchers to explore the relationships between medical students' attitudes and their demographic and education-related characteristics. Further work is needed to validate this scale among a broader population of medical students.