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Many Interns Don't Practice Etiquette-Based Communication

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Many Interns Don't Practice Etiquette-Based Communication

Interns overestimate the extent to which they introduce themselves and their role, sit with patient

FRIDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Internal medicine interns overestimate the extent to which they practice an etiquette-based communication approach, according to a study published online Oct. 12 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

Lauren Block, M.D., M.P.H., from the Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine in Hempstead, N.Y., and colleagues evaluated use of five key communication strategies by internal medicine interns during clinical patient encounters. The strategies included introducing one's self, explaining one's role in patient care, touching the patient, asking open-ended questions, and sitting down with the patient. Participants were surveyed regarding the frequency with which they performed these behaviors and a sample of 29 interns were observed during 732 patient encounters.

The researchers found that interns introduced themselves and explained their role 40 and 37 percent of the time, respectively. Touching the patient and asking open-ended questions were more often performed (65 and 75 percent of visits, respectively). During 9 percent of visits interns sat down with patients. Compared with the observed frequency, interns estimated that they introduced themselves, explained their role, and sat with patients significantly more often (80 versus 40 percent; 80 versus 37 percent; and 58 versus 9 percent, respectively).

"As hospital admissions are a time of vulnerability for patients, physicians can take a basic etiquette-based communication approach to comfort patients and help them feel more secure," the authors write.

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