Impact of a Pediatric-Focused Communication Course on Patient/Caregiver-Perceived Physician Communication Skills in a Pediatric Emergency Department

Pediatr Emerg Care. 2021 Dec 1;37(12):e1173-e1180. doi: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000001950.


Objectives: To evaluate the impact of a pediatric-focused, relationship-centered communication course on patient/caregiver assessment of emergency department (ED) physician communication skills.

Methods: This was a prospective study; a previously validated assessment tool (Pediatric Physician Interpersonal Communication Skills Assessment [P-PICSA]) was used to collect pediatric patient/caregiver evaluation of ED physician communication skills. Emergency department physicians were required to attend a 5.5-hour communication course. Differences in precourse/postcourse P-PICSA and top-box scores were analyzed to determine course impact on ED physician communication skills.

Results: From July 2016 to August 2017, 49 pediatric ED physicians participated in the course, and 24 physicians (49%) had 6-month precourse/postcourse P-PICSA data. Postcourse scores were higher for all 13 items, with 3 items achieving statistical significance: (1) the doctor used words I could understand; (2) the way the doctor involved me in making decisions about my child's care in the ED; (3) how the doctor discussed next steps and/or follow-up plans for my child's care after we leave the ED (P < 0.05). Additionally, postcourse, top-box score percentages were higher for 12 items, with 1 item achieving statistical significance (P = 0.0386).

Conclusions: An organization-wide, pediatric-focused, relationship-centered communication course improved patient/caregiver-perceived ED physician communication. Further research is necessary to assess long-term sustainability.

MeSH terms

  • Caregivers*
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Physicians*
  • Prospective Studies