Background: To study: (1) the structure and test-retest reliability of a measure of how patients perceive the therapeutic communications skills of their general practitioners (TCom-skill GP), and (2) the associations of that scale with socio-demographic and health-related characteristics, and adherence.
Methods: A total of 393 people who lived in the same geographic area and invited to attend a preventive medical centre for a check up were asked to complete a self-administered questionnaire concerning TCom-skill GP (15 items), socio-demographic and health-related characteristics, and to answer two questions on perceived adherence.
Results: The average age of respondents was 46.8 years (SD 14), and 50.4% were men. The TCom-skill GP score was one-dimensional, had high internal coherence (Cronbach alpha 0.92), and good test-retest reliability (intra-class correlation coefficient 0.74). The overall score was positively related to increasing age. Respondents aged 60+ were more likely to be adherent. The higher the score, the higher the probability of adherence. Multivariate analysis showed that the TCom-skill score was associated with advancing age and the number of consultations with the GP during the previous 3 months, but not with gender, living alone, being employed, job category or educational level. Multivariate analysis also showed that adherence was associated with TCom-skill GP score which concealed the association between adherence and advancing age observed in univariate analysis.
Conclusion: The TCom-skill GP scale probably has value in assessing the quality of doctor-patient relationships and therapeutic communications. The psychometric properties of the TCom-skill GP scale were appropriate for its use in this context. Adherence related to the TCom-skill GP and the latter related to the age of patients and the number of their previous consultations. The TCom-skill GP scale may be a useful way to assess, in a specific geographical location, the impact of medical professional training on therapeutic communication.