Assessment of dental students’ communication skills with patients



Introduction: Establishment of effective communication
between the clinician and patient is essential in order to increase
the effectiveness of treatment. These skills have been less
investigated among dental students. This study aimed to evaluate
communication skills of dental students in Shiraz with patients
through direct observation, patients’ perspectives and students’
Methods: This cross-sectional study enrolled the fifth and sixth
year dental students and one of each student’s patients who
was chosen using simple random sampling method. We used a
checklist for data collection. Students’ communication skills were
assessed at three steps of the student-patient interview – at the
beginning of the interview, during the interview, and at the end
of the interview. The checklist was completed by three groups: 1)
an observer, 2) the patient and 3) the student, as self-assessment.
The validity of the checklist was confirmed by clinical professors
and the reliability was determined by Cronbach’s alpha test. Data
were analyzed using descriptive statistics and Student’s t test.
A repeated measure MANOVA was used to compare the mean
communication skills in the researcher, patients, and students at
each step of the patient interviews.
Results: There were 110 students (mean age: 22.3±8.4 years)
and 110 patients (mean age: 32±8.8 years) who completed the
checklists. Overall, the communication skills of dental students
were rated as good according to the patients. However, the observer
and student participants rated the skills at the moderate level. We
observed significant differences between communication skills in
all three groups and in the three steps of the patient interviews
(p<0.001). According to patients’ beliefs and students’ self
assessments, there were no differences between male and female
students in communication skills in the three steps of the patient
interviews (all p>0.05). However from the observer’s viewpoint,
female students showed better communication skills during the
interviews (p=0.001).
Conclusion: There was a degree of failure in communication skills
of dental students with patients in the interview process. It will be
necessary that communication skills be taught, particularly for
students involved in clinical practice.

Keywords: Communication skill; Relationship; Dental student

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 P ISSN: 2322-2220            E ISSN:2322-3561      

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Publisher: Shiraz University of Medical Sciences