Should we use philosophy to teach clinical communication skills?

Gerber, Berna (2016)

CITATION: Gerber, B. 2016. Should we use philosophy to teach clinical communication skills? African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine, 8(1):1-4, doi:10.4102/phcfm.v8i1.1292.

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ENGLISH SUMMARY : Effective communication between the doctor and patient is crucial for good quality health care. Yet, this form of communication is often problematic, which may lead to several negative consequences for both patients and doctors. Clinical communication skills have become important components of medical training programmes. The traditional approach is to teach students particular communication skills, such as listening to patients and asking open-ended questions. Despite their importance, such training approaches do not seem to be enough to deliver medical practitioners who are able and committed to communicate effectively with patients. This might be due to the pervasive negative influence of the medical profession’s (mistaken) understanding of itself as a natural science on doctor–patient communication. Doctors who have been trained according to a positivist framework may consider their only responsibility to be the physical treatment of physical disorders. They may thus have little regard for the patient’s psychological and social world and by extension for communication with the patient and/or their caregivers. To address this problem, I propose a curriculum, based on the academic field of philosophy, for teaching clinical communication.

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