Communication Skills Training Beneficial for Surgery Residents

Positive feedback from residents, patients for program for orthopedic surgery residents

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TUESDAY, July 5, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A communication skills training program has beneficial effects on orthopedic surgery residents' interactions with older adults, according to a report published by the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Noting that good communication is vital to the delivery of high-quality health care, a communication skills training program was implemented for orthopedic surgery residents at the Hospital for Special Surgery. The training consisted of two parts: sessions with a social worker, followed by presentation of a topic by residents to a group of older adults. Sixty-four residents participated in the program from 2009 to 2015.

Based on survey results, residents mean knowledge scores on aging and older people increased significantly, from 57.3 to 72.0 out of 100. There was a significant change in the residents' anxiety levels with respect to the enjoyment of talking to older adults. In addition, improvement was seen in the residents' attitudes toward older or aging adults. In a post-session survey completed by 674 older adult participants, the program received positive ratings; most older adults (96 percent) strongly agreed/agreed that the residents had demonstrated sensitivity.

"As the population ages, we will all be taking care of more and more older patients," Peter Derman, M.D., a surgical resident who participated in the training, said in a statement. "It is imperative that we can tailor our care and communication techniques for this demographic."

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