Communication skills in context: Trends and perspectives

Jan van Dalen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Doctor-patient communication has been well researched. Less is known about the educational background of communication skills training. Do we aim for optimal performance of skills, or rather attempt to help students become skilled communicators? Methods: An overview is given of the current view on optimal doctor-patient communication. Next we focus on recent literature on how people acquire skills. These two topics are integrated in the next chapter, in which we discuss the optimal training conditions. Results: A longitudinal training design has more lasting results than incidental training. Assessment must be in line with the intended learning outcomes. For transfer, doctor-patient communication must be addressed in all stages of health professions training. Conclusion: Elementary insights from medical education are far from realised in many medical schools. Doctor-patient communication would benefit strongly from more continuity in training and imbedding in the daily working contexts of doctors. Practice implications: When an educational continuum is realised and attention for doctor-patient communication is embedded in the working context of doctors in training the benefits will be strong. Training is only a part of the solution. In view of the current dissatisfaction with doctor-patient communication a change in attitude of course directors is strongly called for.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-295
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Doctor-patient communication
  • Course design
  • Intercultural communication
  • Communication instrument


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