A Decade of Experience with a Multiday Residential Communication Skills Intensive: Has the Outcome Been Worth the Investment?

A Decade of Experience with a Multiday Residential Communication Skills Intensive: Has the Outcome Been Worth the Investment?


Terry Stein, MD

Fall 2007 - Volume 11 Number 4



Objective: To present three outcome measures from a multiday residential Communication Skills Intensive provided to 525 clinicians in a large health care organization over ten years. The Intensive includes 10-12 hours of videotaped role-play with actors, extensive feedback, and self-reflection.

Methods: The background, content, and format of the Intensive are described. Results of three outcome measures are presented: program evaluations, a one-time physician satisfaction survey, and longitudinal patient satisfaction scores.

Results: A sampling of evaluations from three programs (n = 73) showed mean scores of 4.83 (on a Likert scale of 1-5) in response to the item “I will incorporate the skills acquired at this program into my clinical practice” and 4.90 in response to the item “Overall, this training was valuable.” On a follow-up physician satisfaction survey, nearly all (99%) of the 70 respondents indicated that the course had helped to improve their communication skills with patients. Most (89%) also said that applying the techniques they learned had increased their own professional satisfaction. Patient satisfaction scores for cohorts of course participants showed consistent increases in the six months following the course compared to the six months prior. This improvement has been sustained for as long as seven years.

Conclusion: Physicians have highly valued their participation in the Communication Skills Intensive. The impact of attending the course has been noticed by their patients. Offering physicians the opportunity for in-depth learning to enhance their interpersonal skills is a worthwhile investment for a health care organization.

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