Communication effectiveness training improves surgical resident teaching ability

J Am Coll Surg. 1997 Dec;185(6):516-9. doi: 10.1016/s1072-7515(97)00112-9.


Background: An important educational objective of academic surgical programs is to train surgical teachers. Whether formal instruction of surgery residents in general principles of teaching has a role in the achievement of this objective is unproven.

Study design: We tested whether the teaching ability of surgery residents could be improved by two different interventions: (A) a lecture on communication effectiveness plus home study of their own videotaped lectures and (B) a critical review of their own videotaped lectures with a teaching consultant. Each resident taught four sessions. There was no intervention between sessions 1 and 2; intervention A occurred between sessions 2 and 3; and intervention B, between sessions 3 and 4. Each of the four videotaped sessions was graded for communication effectiveness using a standardized scoring form.

Results: There were no significant differences between scores from lectures 1 and 2 (no intervention) or lectures 2 and 3 (intervention A). Intervention B (individualized feedback) resulted in significant improvement in all scores from session 4 compared with sessions 1 and 2: content 3.40 versus 2.98 (p = 0.01), language 3.43 versus 3.22 (p = 0.03), delivery 3.25 versus 2.87 (p = 0.002), and overall 3.43 versus 2.88 (p = 0.002).

Conclusions: Surgical resident teaching ability can be improved by communication effectiveness teaching. Individualized feedback is more effective than a lecture combined with self-study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Communication*
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / methods*
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data
  • Problem-Based Learning / methods
  • Problem-Based Learning / statistics & numerical data
  • Teaching / methods*
  • Teaching / statistics & numerical data