Communication skills and their association with self-reported academic performances of Nigerian pharmacy students

  • C.M. Ubaka
  • C.V. Ukwe


Background. Effective communication is an important attribute for practising pharmacists worldwide. However, little is known about the effects of communication skills on pharmacy students’ academic performances in Nigerian pharmacy schools.

Objectives. To identify the distribution of two communication skills, i.e. assertiveness and reticence, among pharmacy students and the association of these skills with the students’ academic performances.

Methods. Seven pharmacy schools were randomly sampled in this study. A validated 18-item questionnaire measuring communication constructs, assertiveness and reticence was distributed to eligible students after ethical approval had been obtained. The questionnaire adopted a 5-point Likert scale for responses. Demographic details and self-reported academic performances in the most recent pharmacy examinations were also collected. Descriptive and regression statistics were reported for the distribution of these communication skills and student factors that influence performances, respectively.

Results. Pharmacy students (n=1 550) were surveyed. Students were more assertive (mean 3.40) than reticent (mean 3.30) in their communication. Female students were more reticent and less assertive than male students (p≤0.05), but age had no influence on either construct. Being highly assertive was associated with higher grade performances in the three courses examined (p≤0.027 for each course). However, for clinical pharmacy, lower reticence scores were associated with better academic performances (p=0.035). Regression analysis showed that assertive pharmacy students were less likely to report lower grades in all three courses (p≤0.004) and reticent students were more likely to report lower grades in only clinical pharmacy (p=0.042).

Conclusions. Assertive and reticent communication skills were present among Nigerian pharmacy students. Being assertive and reticent, as well as students’ gender, age and marital status, were associated with the students’ self-reported academic performances.


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