Communication Skills among Surgical Trainees: Perceptions of Residents in a Teaching Hospital in Northern Nigeria
Communication between the surgeon and the patient is a core clinical skill. The ability to communicate with patients and their family members is very important in the optimum care of the surgical patient. Few studies have assessed communication between surgical trainees and their patients in sub-Saharan Africa. In response to this, the communication skills of residents in the department of surgery were evaluated to determine their perception of competency and perceived need for training in communication skills as a basis for developing an effective education programme.
A survey of patient care - related communication skills among surgery residents and assessment of competence, rating the importance and perceived need for training in communication skills.
Most residents rated their skills as either fairly or extremely competent in all areas except in providing bereavement counseling. They found all skills
important and indicated a need for training in them. Senior registrars rated their competence and the importance higher in skills relating to breaking bad news, educating and preparing patients and families for surgery and encouraging them to express their anxieties. (p < 0.05). There was no statistical difference in communication skills between male and female residents (p > 0.05).
Residents face difficult communication challenges with patients and their families. There is a dire need for improved education in communication skills. Understanding the surgical trainees perceptions of patient care related communication skills is the first step in designing an effective education programme.
Key Words: Communication skills, surgical trainees, perception