302 Communication Techniques Utilized by Dental Students While Presenting Treatment Plans

Thursday, March 22, 2012: 2 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Presentation Type: Poster Session
M.R. MCQUISTAN, Preventive & Community Dentistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, M.R. POPOWSKI, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, F. QIAN, Department of Preventive and Community Dentistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, and C.L. STRAUB-MORAREND, Family Dentistry, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Objective: To assess which communication techniques students: 1)utilize while presenting treatment plans, and 2)believe are the most effective.

Method: An 104-item survey was developed and distributed to 4th-year dental students (2010:N=79; 2011:N=77).  The survey assessed how often students utilized 28 common communication techniques and their perceived effectiveness.  Utilization was collapsed into “not available/never/rarely/occasionally=0” vs. “most/all of the time=1.”   Effectiveness was re-coded as “not effective/unknown=0” vs. “effective/somewhat effective=1.”  Scores were calculated by summing the responses and then dichotomized (utilization:0-8 vs. 9-28; effectiveness:0-20 vs. 21-28).  Univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted.  IRB approval was obtained.

Result: Response rate= 86.5%. On average, students utilized 8 techniques and believed 20 were effective.  The following techniques were utilized: >90%:  maintain eye contact with the patient, speak with the patient while the patient is sitting up; >80%:  encourage patients to ask questions, use simple language, present information from the patient record; >50% speak slowly.  <30% of students: present 2-3 concepts at a time, ask patients to repeat information, use pictures, or enlist the help of others to promote understanding; however, >60% of students believed these techniques were effective.  Students who felt very comfortable (p=0.0061) and very confident (p=0.09) presenting treatment plans were more likely to use >8 techniques.  Students who believed >20 techniques were effective were more likely to: 1)report lack of time as a barrier to patient understanding (p=0.02), and 2)spend more time presenting treatment plans (p=0.02) compared to students who believed that fewer methods were effective.  Students who believed <21 techniques were effective were more likely to respond they were unable to provide information more simply.  Gender, race, and participation in a communication course prior to dental school were not related (p>0.1) with utilization or effectiveness.  Utilization and effectiveness were not associated with each other.

Conclusion: Students should be encouraged to use a variety of effective communication techniques.

Keywords: Behavioral science, Education research, Teaching and communication-health literacy