Addressing physicians' impaired communication skills

J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Nov;23(11):1890-5. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0778-7. Epub 2008 Sep 5.


Introduction: Deficient physician communication skills can lead to complaints by patients and colleagues. While there are many communication training courses for physicians, there are few descriptions of programs that address their deficiencies.

Aim: This report describes the use of a coaching model developed by the author to remediate inadequate communication skills.

Program description: The coaching model consists of a discrete set of communication skills that are gradually integrated into professional activities while debriefing that process in a supportive relationship.

Program evaluation: Outcomes are provided for the first 13 physicians coached after the approach was standardized. On a Likert scale (range, 1-7), with 7 expressing "high satisfaction," all participants rated the consultation in the 5-7 range (mean, 6.3), and all supervisors rated the consultation in the 6-7 range (mean, 6.7).

Discussion: A coaching model is effective in improving communication skills deemed inadequate by physicians' patients and colleagues. Future work should evaluate the impact of integrating coaching into health care organizations and on developing new tools to augment coaching.

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Consultants
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Professional Competence