Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the literature on the effectiveness of communication skills training for clinicians on patients' clinical outcomes in primary care and rehabilitation settings.
Methods: We systematically reviewed the literature for randomized controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of communication skills training for clinicians on patients' satisfaction with care and on pain and disability in primary care and rehabilitation settings. The search strategy was conducted using AMED, PsycINFO, MEDLINE, CINAHL, EMBASE, PEDro, and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials through June 2015. Methodological quality of included trials was assessed by 2 independent investigators using the PEDro scale, and consensus was used to resolve disagreements. Data were extracted, and meta-analyses were performed.
Results: Nineteen randomized controlled trials were included. Of these, 16 investigated communication training for clinicians that emphasized patient participation (eg, shared decision-making approaches). Communication training had small effects on patients' satisfaction with care when compared to control (4.1 points on a 100-point scale, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-7.0). Communication training also had small effects on pain and disability with pooled results showing weighted mean differences of −3.8 points (95% CI, −6.5 to −1.1) and −3.6 (95% CI, −5.4 to −1.7), respectively.
Conclusions: Studies show that communication training for clinicians produces small effects in improving patients' satisfaction with care or reducing pain and disability in primary care and rehabilitation settings.
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