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Perceived need and attitudes towards communication skill training in recently admitted undergraduate medical students

Jagdish Varma, Anusha Prabhakaran, Suman Singh

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2018.049


The Medical Council of India intends to implement an attitude, ethics, and communication training module for medical students. This study investigates undergraduate students’ attitudes towards communication skills training (CST). Forms were distributed to 81 recently admitted undergraduates, of whom 76 responded, in an anonymous cross-sectional survey. Single questions assessed knowledge of communication skills (CS), need for formal curriculum, and importance of CST. Attitudes toward CS were measured using a modified Communication Skills Attitude Scale. While 72% participants considered CST to be important and 68.4% reported a need for formal training, 43% felt CST would have a better image if it sounded more like a science subject. Forty percent of the students were ambiguous about willingness to trust information on communication skills given by non-clinical lecturers, whereas 15.8% were not receptive. Fifty-five percent felt nobody would fail because of poor communication skills, and 46% felt that the ability to pass exams would get them through medical school. We found a high prevalence of unfavourable attitudes about CS (as a subject). Course implementers should be mindful of and address attitudes towards CST while delivering the content of the course.

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