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Medscape have just released this article (free registration required):
In the fast-paced managed care environment, relationship-building conversations can get lost in the pressure to perform. The demands of keeping abreast of the latest medical treatment approaches can overshadow the need to practice and improve communication skills. Yet, communication is the foundation of all relationships, especially "healing" relationships, and positive physician-patient relationships are a critical part of the healing process. Zoppi and Epstein argue that good communication is both a "way of being" and a skill that promotes positive physician-patient relationships. Neuwirth notes that good communication is good business practice and leads to greater patient satisfaction, improved clinical outcomes, and increased patient compliance. Neuwirth further suggests that contrary to general assumptions, communication skills are not strictly inborn assets or talents but rather skills that can be learned and developed -- much like those needed to learn to play a musical instrument. The musical instrument metaphor is particularly apt, as playing the instrument well requires continuous practice and improvement regardless of the level of talent. The need to address physician-patient communication lies in the necessity to continuously improve and hone one's ability to communicate in ways that build and sustain positive patient relationships.
This activity is designed to facilitate the continuous learning process that is an essential part of effective relationship-building communication. The activity is organized into 5 areas:
A review of the recent research and what it says about physician-patient communication and relationships;
A description of the essential elements of effective patient-centered communication and approaches that promote mutual understanding;
A discussion of the concepts of readiness to change and how it influences patient compliance;
A description of the spirit of motivational interviewing (MI) and its usefulness in promoting positive physician-patient communication; and
The provision of resources supporting continued learning for the clinician and the patient.