Dr. Basmah Al Zahrani
National Guard Program – Riyadh 2008/2009
Objectives: To assess barriers, practice attitude and knowledge of primary health care physicians about communication skills during medical consultations in primary health care centers in National Guard Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Design: Cross sectional study
Methodology: The study was conducted during the period from November 2009 till July 2010. Seventy primary care physicians answered a structured questionnaire about their knowledge, practice and barrier of effective communication skills during medical consultations.
Results: Survey of 70 PHC physicians showed 25(35.7%) residents, 28(40%) specialized. The majority of the physicians did receive some form of training for communication skills (85.7%), however, they did perceive lack of proper training (68.5%) as a barrier also. Common patient barriers to better communication with patients were different cultural norms from physicians or different gender (51.4%). A system related barrier noted by physicians was lack of time (82.8%). Mean score of practicing communication skills was 37.2/60 and mean knowledge score was 3.31/6 for the physicians in our study. No relationship between knowledge and practice was noted in our study but a positive correlation between age, years of experience and practicing communication skills was found ( F-statistic 5.6, p value 0.006. Practice scores were significantly different for residents, staff physicians and specialists. Physicians who were confident of their communication skills and who made a concious effort to apply the skills that they had learned were shown to score better on practicing these communication skills.
Conclusion: Knowledge of communication skills can improve with training however having the knowledge does not affect the practice of communication skills unless the physician is self-confident and has the right attitude of consciously applying that knowledge in his/her practice and improvement comes with age and experience.
Key words: communication skills, barrier, practice, knowledge, atittude , primary health care physicians