Should parents assess the interpersonal skills of doctors who treat their children? A literature review

J Paediatr Child Health. 2001 Dec;37(6):531-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1440-1754.2001.00755.x.


Medical consultations in which doctors display good interpersonal skills are associated with a wide range of positive health outcomes. Obtaining the perceptions of patients, or parents in paediatric settings, regarding the interpersonal skills demonstrated by their doctors could provide feedback on doctor behaviours that influence health outcomes. It could also offer an alternative to more traditional methods of assessing interpersonal skills, such as using standardized patients. Patient perceptions of doctor interpersonal skills are most commonly obtained through patient-completed satisfaction questionnaires. A literature review was conducted with the aim of examining the potential role of parent perceptions in the evaluation of paediatric interviews. Studies identified were reviewed for information regarding the rationale for obtaining parent perceptions, the reliability and validity of measures used, the association between parent evaluations and specific doctor interview behaviours and the acceptability and feasibility of obtaining this information. Practical applications of the information obtained from parent evaluations were also sought. There was considerable support for the inclusion of patient evaluations in the assessment of the interpersonal skills of medical students and doctors. Reliable and valid measurement of patient evaluations can be obtained and patients are willing to provide this information. A clear association between specific doctor interview behaviours and parent satisfaction ratings was demonstrated. However, the important issue of feasibility and acceptability to doctors and medical students of obtaining patient perceptions of interpersonal skills, was not addressed. Patient evaluations of the interpersonal skills displayed by their doctors should be a component of clinical skills assessments. Information obtained from parents relating to the care of children could provide feedback to doctors regarding their personal interviewing style. In order to make full use of the information obtained from parents, there is a need for further study to establish the sensitivity of parent evaluations and methods to facilitate the process of obtaining this information.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Parents
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Surveys and Questionnaires