Evaluation of an interview training course for general practitioners

Soc Sci Med. 1985;20(7):737-44. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(85)90064-4.


This article describes the evaluation of an experimental training in doctor-patient communication for general practitioners. The training was based on Rogerian theory and accommodated to the specific situation of the general practitioner. The main concept of this theory is the notion of 'unconditional positive regard'. It was expected that doctors would change their communication behaviour and that as a result patients would talk more about their psychosocial problems. The training was restricted to the diagnostic process, no therapeutic interventions were taught. The effects of this training have been measured by comparing video-tapes of live doctor-patient consultations, before and 3 months after the training. The most important result of this evaluation study turned out to be the change of the doctor's behaviour in the expected direction, but surprisingly the outcome of the consultation did not change at all: the doctors were empathically listening, but the patients did not talk more about their problems. Creating room for patients is not sufficient to induce them to discuss their personal problems with their doctors. Perhaps they do not feel like discussing their personal problems with them at all.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Family Practice / education*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Referral and Consultation*