Communication guidelines as a learning tool: An exploration of user preferences in general practice

Wemke Veldhuijzen*, Paul M. Ram, Trudy van der Weijden, Cees P. M. van der Vleuten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective: To explore characteristics of written communication guidelines that enhance the success of training aimed at the application of the recommendations in the guidelines. Methods: Seven mixed focus groups were held consisting of communication skill teachers and communication skill learners and three groups with only learners. Analysis was done in line with principles of grounded theory. Results: Five key attributes of guidelines for communication skill training were identified: complexity, level of detail, format and organization, type of information, and trustworthiness/validity. The desired use of these attributes is related to specific educational purposes and learners' expertise. The low complexity of current communication guidelines is appreciated, but seems ad odds with the wish for more valid communication guidelines. Conclusions: Which guideline characteristics are preferred by users depends on the expertise of the learners and the educational purpose of the guideline. Practice implications: Communication guidelines can be improved by modifying the key attributes in line with specific educational functions and learner expertise. For example: the communication guidelines used in GP training in the Netherlands, seem to offer an oversimplified model of doctor patient communication. This model may be suited for undergraduate learning, but does not meet the validity demands of physicians in training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-219
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013


  • Doctor-patient communication
  • General practice
  • Postgraduate training
  • Course content

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