Introduction to communication skills

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Communication is defined as the act of imparting knowledge and encompasses the exchange of information, ideas and feelings.

Effective communication is central to a successful doctor–patient relationship. Traditionally, this has been verbal but, increasingly, patients are expecting written communication from the clinician regarding results and summarising their consultation. Good communication plays a pivotal role in reducing complaints made against a doctor. Poor communication accounts for approximately 10% of all claims against doctors.

This tutorial aims to provide the necessary components to help you to achieve successful communication with colleagues, patients and their relatives.

Learning objectives

When you have completed this tutorial, you will be aware of:

  • the components of effective communication within a medical consultation
  • the use of appropriate questioning techniques
  • the characteristics and use of open and closed questions
  • the principles of imparting bad news
  • a framework for effective communication with colleagues
  • the importance of using translators
  • the principles of communication when something goes wrong

Last updated: 02/06/14 (tutorial was revised and updated by Dr Natalie Woodhead)

18/12/12 (18 role play videos were added)

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