Communications skills in dental education: a systematic research review

Eur J Dent Educ. 2010 May;14(2):69-78. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0579.2009.00586.x.


Communication is an essential element of the relationship between patient and dentist. Dental schools are required to ensure that undergraduates are adequately trained in communication skills yet little evidence exists to suggest what constitutes appropriate training and how competency can be assessed. This review aimed to explore the scope and quality of evidence relating to communication skills training for dental students. Eleven papers fitted the inclusion criteria. The review found extensive use amongst studies of didactic learning and clinical role-play using simulated patients. Reported assessment methods focus mainly on observer evaluation of student interactions at consultation. Patient involvement in training appears to be minimal. This review recommends that several areas of methodology be addressed in future studies, the scope of research extended to include intra-operative communication, and that the role of real patients in the development of communication skills be active rather than passive.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations
  • Education, Dental / methods*
  • Humans
  • Patient Simulation