Barriers to teaching communication skills in Spanish medical schools: a qualitative study with academic leaders.
Abstract: Background: In recent years, Spanish medical schools (MSs) have incorporated training in communication skills (CS), but how this training is being carried out has not yet been evaluated. Objective: To identify the barriers to the introduction and development of CS teaching in Spanish MSs. Methods: In a previous study, 34 MSs (83% of all MSs in Spain) were invited to participate in a study that explored the factual aspects of teaching CS in these schools. The person responsible for teaching CS at each school was contacted again for this study and asked to respond to a single open-ended question. Two researchers independently conducted a thematic analysis of the responses. Results: We received responses from 30 MSs (85.7% of those contacted and 73% of all MSs in Spain). Five main thematic areas were identified, each with different sub-areas: negative attitudes of teachers and academic leaders; organisation, structure and presence of CS training in the curriculum; negative attitudes of students; a lack of trained teachers; and problems linked to teaching methods and necessary educational logistics. Conclusions: The identified barriers and problems indicate that there are areas for improvement in teaching CS in most Spanish MSs. There seems to be a vicious circle based on the dynamic relationship and interdependence of all these problems that should be faced with different strategies and that requires a significant cultural shift as well as decisive institutional support at the local and national levels. The incorporation of CS training into MS curricula represents a major challenge that must be addressed for students to learn CS more effectively and avoid negative attitudes towards learning CS.
- MEDICINA