Context factors in consultations of general practitioner trainees and their impact on communication assessment in the authentic setting

Geurt Essers*, Sandra van Dulmen, Judy van Es, Chris van Weel, Cees van der Vleuten, Anneke W. M. Kramer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Acquiring adequate communication skills is an essential part of general practice (GP) specialty training. In assessing trainee proficiency, the context in which trainees communicate is usually not taken into account. The present paper aims to explore what context factors can be found in regular GP trainee consultations and how these influence their communication performance. Methods: In a randomly selected sample of 44 videotaped, real-life GP trainee consultations, we searched for context factors previously identified in GP consultations and explored how trainee ratings change if context factors are taken into account. Trainee performance was rated twice using the MAAS-Global, first without and then with incorporating context factors. Item score differences were calculated using a paired samples t-test and effect sizes were computed. Results: All previously identified context factors were again observed in GP trainee consultations. In communication assessment scores, we found a significant difference in 5 out of 13 MAAS-Global items, mostly in a positive direction. The effect size was moderate (0.57). Conclusions: GP trainee communication is influenced by contextual factors; they seem to adapt to context in a professional way. Practice implications: GP specialty training needs to focus on a context-specific application of communication skills. Communication raters need to be taught how to incorporate context factors into their assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-572
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • General practice
  • Communication in context
  • Postgraduate education
  • Medical education
  • Primary health care

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