CCS training lacks a formal structure with substantial variation of the teaching process.
The interviews promoted, amongst important stakeholders, a rise in awareness of this situation and how these skills can enhance the quality of clinical practice, encouraging curricular change.
A communication skills teaching model: CoSTProMed is suggested for curriculum integration.
The importance of clinical communication skills (CCS) teaching and assessment is increasingly recognized in medical education. There is a lack of outcome-based research about CCS teaching and assessment processes in Portuguese medical education. Our goal is to conduct a SWOT analysis of this process in Portugal, Angola and Mozambique in order to contribute to the establishment of an action plan for more effective CCS teaching and assessment in medical curricula.Methods
Between 2010 and 2012, semi-structured interviews focused on the state of the art of teaching and assessment of clinical communication skills were conducted with key stakeholders of medical courses in Portugal, Angola and Mozambique. The design corresponds to an exploratory, descriptive and cross-sectional study, with the analysis of the recorded interviews. Interview transcripts were analyzed to identify salient themes/coding template in their discussions of the CCS teaching process. The coding and analysis of the surveys is qualitative.Results
87 interviews were performed at the 8 Portuguese, 1 Angolan and 1 Mozambican medical schools. Results indicate that the teaching and assessment process of CCS is in the beginning stages with these commonalities noted: (i) Variability amongst faculty in the teaching and assessment methods, (ii) disconnection of CCS between basic and clinical cycles, (iii) content and process skills and (iv) faculty development.Conclusions
CCS training lacks a formal structure with considerable variation of the CCS teaching process in these countries. The interviews promoted a rise in awareness of this situation and how these skills can enhance the quality of curricular change. Some important opportunities for the development and implementation of a framework of an integrated communication skills curriculum such as curricular reforms and well-established cooperation and networks were identified. The acknowledgement of the importance of integrating these skills in ME by key stake-holders and students in institutions and the identification of champions motivated to commit to the effort are strengths that should be considered to integrate and enhance CCS in the medical curricula.