Remediation of learners struggling with communication skills: a systematic review
BMC Medical Education
Communication skills is a core area of competency for healthcare practitioners. However, trainees deficient in those skills are not identified early enough to address the deficiency. Furthermore, faculty often struggle to identify effective remediation strategies for those who fail to meet expectations. We undertook a systematic review to determine which assessment methods are appropriate to identify learners that struggle with communication skills and the strategies used to remediate them. The
... remediate them. The literature was searched from January 1998 through to May 2019 using academic databases and grey literature. Trainees were defined as healthcare practitioners in undergraduate, graduate and continuing education. Characteristics of studies, assessment and intervention strategies and outcomes were synthesized qualitatively and summarized in tables. From an initial 1636 records, 16 (1%) studies met the review criteria. Majority of the learners were medical students. A few studies (44%) included students from other disciplines, residents and physicians in practice. The remediation programs, in the studies, ranged from 1 week to 1 year. Around half of the studies focused solely on learners struggling with communication skills. The majority of studies used a format of a clinical OSCE to identify struggling learners. None of the studies had a single intervention strategy with the majority including an experiential component with feedback. A few studies collectively described the diagnosis, remediation intervention and the assessment of the outcomes of remediation of communication skills. For a remediation strategy to be successful it is important to ensure: (i) early identification and diagnosis, (ii) the development of an individualized plan and (iii) providing reassessment with feedback to the learner.