Medical students’ attitudes toward communication skills learning: comparison between two groups with and without training.

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Advances in Medical Education and Practice
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Objective: The value students give to communication skills (CS), acquiring them, or other related matters can influence the effectiveness of educational programs. In this study, we explored first and fourth year medical students’ attitudes toward CS and their learning, assessing the possible influence they have on programmed experiential training in a medical school. Subjects and methods: Two hundred and twenty first and fourth year medical students completed the Communication Skills Attitudes Scale, analyzing the positive and negative, and affective and cognitive attitude subscales toward learning. Results: Fourth year students trained in CS showed less positive attitudes toward CS than first year untrained students. Cognitive and affective attitudes displayed different patterns in both groups; while affective attitudes decreased in fourth year students, cognitive attitudes did not vary significantly between groups. Accumulated learning experiences seem to be more influential than sex. Conclusion: The findings suggest that students’ attitudes toward CS could decline as a result of CS training. Nevertheless, students’ attitudes at the cognitive and fundamental level stay fairly unchanged. Learning CS with experiential methods seems to be challenging for students at a personal level; so, educators should personalize these methods as much as possible. However, further studies using longitudinal research designs should be performed for exploring students’ attitudes changes over time.

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Medical education, Communication skills, Medical students, Experiential learning, Students’ attitudes