Rapid Communication| Volume 9, ISSUE 1, P34-40, March 1999

Communication between doctors and patients

  • J. Cockburn
    Discipline of Behavioural Science in Relation to Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
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  • W.A.W. Walters
    Correspondence to: Professor William A.W. Walters, Discipline of Reproductive Medicine, Level 3, John Hunter Hospital, Locked Bag 1, Hunter Region Mail Centre, NSW 2310, Australia
    Discipline of Reproductive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia
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      Communication between the patient and the doctor is fundamental to good medical practice. Patients perceive that the communication skills of clinicians are as important as technical skills for determining whether high quality medical care has been provided. Failure of adequate communication is a significant factor determining patient dissatisfaction with the quality of medical care and often leads to litigation. Communication skills can be improved by specially-designed training programmes. To achieve optimal results such programmes should be incorporated into both undergraduate and postgraduate medical training.
      For obstetricians and gynaecologists, clincial issues that are appropriate for courses in communication skills include breaking bad news, encouraging adherence to medical advice, preparation for potentially threatening clinical procedures, and encouraging behaviour change.
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