Post-graduate education for medical specialists focused on patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms; development of a communication skills training programme
SourcePatient Education and Counseling, 92, 3, (2013), pp. 355-60
Article / Letter to editor
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Primary and Community Care
Patient Education and Counseling
SubjectNCEBP 7: Effective primary care and public health
OBJECTIVE: Stepwise description of the development of a post-graduate communication skills training programme for medical specialists focused on patients with medically unexplained physical symptoms (MUPS) to improve specialist interaction with MUPS patients. METHODS: Using the 'intervention mapping approach' we accomplished a needs assessment (literature study and pilot) to formulate intervention objectives and identify methods and techniques for a MUPS-focused communication skills training programme for medical specialists. RESULTS: A 14-h training programme which consists of experiential learning, role-play and feedback. Using skills from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, medical specialists are stimulated to explore interrelating factors that reinforce symptoms, to reassure patients effectively and to provide plausible and understandable explanations for MUPS. Dealing with complex referrals and informing GPs properly are also practiced. CONCLUSION: By applying the 'intervention mapping approach' we were able to create a feasible and promising intervention to improve specialist interaction with MUPS patients. Intervention effects are currently being assessed in a randomized controlled trial. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: If the RCT demonstrates sufficient effectiveness and efficiency of the MUPS focused communication skills training programme for medical specialists the intervention could be embedded in post-graduate education of medical specialists and residents.
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