Communication Matters: a Survey Study of Communication Didactics in Obstetrics/Gynecology Residency
Background: Delivery of excellent patient care hinges on effective communication. Improved communication between physicians, patients, and colleagues can facilitate shared decision-making and foster successful interprofessional teams. Despite the importance of this skill, little is understood about the status or acceptability of dedicated communication training during obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN) residency. Objective: To explore the national landscape of dedicated communication didactics during OB/GYN training. Methods: Residents and program directors (PDs) at ACGME-accredited programs were emailed anonymized surveys. Survey responses pertaining to communication didactics and trainee experiences were evaluated using descriptive statistics and chi-squared tests. Results: Of 143 PDs, 45 responded (31.5%). Although the total number of residents receiving our survey is unattainable, our 215 resident respondents can be estimated to represent at least 4.4% of trainees. 98.1% of residents reported challenging clinical communication at least monthly, with many reporting this weekly (47.9%) and daily (30.0%). A majority of PDs (77.8%) and residents (67.0%) endorsed interest in communication training. 62.2% of programs reported formally teaching communication skills. Certain topics were infrequently taught yet cited by residents as particularly challenging—such as “diffusing conflict” and “angry patient or family members.” PDs tended to significantly overestimate trainee competence in conducting difficult conversations with both patients (p = 0.0003) and interdisciplinary colleagues (p < 0.0001), as compared with resident self-assessments. Conclusions: Residents encounter frequent challenging communications interactions, and often feel inadequately equipped to navigate them. Dedicated didactics may provide a critical component to optimally educating of the next generation of trainees within OB/GYN and more broadly.
Howell, EP; Fischer, J; Valea, FA; Davidson, BA
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