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Can communication skills workshops for emergency department doctors improve patient satisfaction?


Objective—To assess whether the attending of the communication skills workshops by the emergency department doctors improves patient satisfaction and reduces the number of complaints on doctors' attitude.

Method—Standard performas were sent to all emergency departments (EDs) in Hong Kong soliciting their numbers of written complaints on doctors' attitude or communication problems during the nine months before and after a series of communication skills workshops. Patient satisfaction surveys in four representative EDs, before and after the workshops, were collected and the satisfaction rates of doctors' attitude, explanation and advice were subsequently compared.

Results—For the hospitals that responded, written complaints against doctors' attitude reduced from 26 (1 January 1995 to 30 September 1995) to 15 (1 July 1996 to 31 March 1997), amounting to a 42% reduction despite an increase of attendance from 724 000 to 898 000 (p = 0.05 χ2). From the 663 and 480 questionnaires collected before and after the workshops respectively, the satisfaction rate to doctors' attitude increases from 88.3% before to 98% after the workshops, while the satisfaction rate to explanation and advice provided by doctors increases from 79.8% to 93.8%.

Conclusion—Communication skills workshops in Hong Kong can improve ED doctors communication skills with a corresponding increase in patient satisfaction and reduction of complaints against ED doctors.

  • patient satisfaction
  • complaint
  • communication skills

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