Improving patient-centered communication: Results of a randomized controlled trial

Patient Educ Couns. 2016 Jan;99(1):117-24. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2015.08.012. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


Objective: Patient-centered communication is a key element for improving the quality of care in terms of therapeutic relationship, patient participation, and treatment process. Postgraduate trainings provide an essential way of promoting patient centeredness on the job where learning opportunities are often limited by time, patient volume, and economic pressure. In the present study, changes in patient centeredness during clinical routines of postgraduate physicians (internal medicine) after a three-day communication training were assessed.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was conducted in a primary care clinic. The intervention consisted of a communication training that aimed to enhance patient centeredness in postgraduate physicians. The training was based on a need assessment and the principles of deliberate practice. Workplace-based assessment of physicians' communication behavior was obtained using the Roter Interaction Analysis System.

Results: Three months after the intervention, trained physicians showed significantly increased patient centeredness (F=5.36, p=.04; d=0.42).

Conclusion: The communication training significantly improved patient centeredness during routine clinical practice. Thus, this training provides a structured and theory-based concept to foster patient centeredness.

Practice implications: The results support the implementation of communication trainings as a part of faculty development and medical specialization training.

Keywords: Communication training; Doctor–patient relationship; Patient centeredness; Patient-centered communication; RCT; RIAS.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Medical, Graduate
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Patient Participation*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Patient Simulation
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality of Health Care