A physician communication coaching program: Developing a supportive culture of feedback to sustain and reinvigorate faculty physicians

Fam Syst Health. 2020 Jun;38(2):184-189. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000491.


Introduction: Physician-patient communication involves complex skills that affect quality, outcome, and satisfaction for patients, families, and health care teams. Yet, institutional, regulatory, and scientific demands compete for physicians' attention. A framework is needed to support physicians continued development of communication skills: Coaching is 1 such evidence-based practice, and we assessed the feasibility of implementing such a program.

Method: Participants were 12 physicians, representing high and low scorers on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Health Care Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey. We added items to capture empathy and family experience to the Calgary-Cambridge Observation Guide for the Medical Interview. Coaches observed communication associated with patient satisfaction and quality measures: introductions (I), asking about concerns (C), and check for understanding (U), or ICU. Participants received a report describing their communication behaviors, emphasizing strengths, and identifying areas for improvement.

Results: Scores on the ICU significantly discriminated between low and high HCAHPS scorers, physicians from surgical and cognitive specialties, men and women. We collected anonymous feedback regarding the value of this training; participants recommended expanding the program.

Discussion: Based on physician endorsement, experienced coaches are expanding the coaching program to physicians throughout our institution. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Communication*
  • Faculty, Medical / psychology*
  • Feedback*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Male
  • Mentoring / methods*
  • Mentoring / trends
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires