Background: The importance of communication skills in postgraduate medical training is likely to be highlighted given the convergence of research and educational forces. Assessment of these skills in residency training is vital since it can provide basis for policy undertaking among Pakistani medical academia for improving postgraduate training programs.
Aim: To assess the perceived status of communication skills of residents in different specialties.
Materials and methods: A cross sectional survey was conducted in four teaching hospitals of Karachi between July 1999 and January 2001. A total of 455 residents in different residency programs were contacted. Residents registered both with College of Physicians and Surgeons of Pakistan and Postgraduate Medical Education office of selected hospitals were included in this study. Responses of residents were obtained on 5-point Likert scale. Indices were formed for three components of communication skills: informative, affective and professional communication.
Statistical analysis: Differences between residents' groups were assessed through analysis of variance.
Results: Total informative communication index was lowest for multi-disciplinary (12.05, SD = 4.87) and highest for surgical (15.27, SD = 2.51) residents. Total affective index was lowest for multi-disciplinary (12.58, SD = 5.68) and highest for medical (15.74, SD = 3.59) residents. The group differences for four groups of residency programs were not statistically significant for either professional attributes separately or for the total professional index.
Conclusions: The residency programs must establish goals, process and outcomes to incorporate communication skills in postgraduate medical training since this can enhance residents' performance as effective health care providers. Accomplishment of better communication skills can be achieved if the importance of its teaching and training is valued by residency program coordinators.