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International Journal Publishes Paper on Interpersonal Communication Research

The paper, "An evaluation of the impact of training Honduran healthcare providers in interpersonal communication," was recently published by the International Journal for Quality in Health Care 2000. The paper was co-authored by Lori DiPrete Brown, MPH, of the QA Project, and authors from the Academy for Educational Development and the Department of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health.

The research was part of a multi-country research effort by the USAID-funded QA Project, which evaluated the impact of interpersonal communication training on healthcare practice and patient satisfaction and explored whether the benefits of this training could be replicated in developing countries.

Few studies have assessed the quality of interpersonal communication (IPC) in healthcare services in developing nations. The little research that has been done indicates that health counseling and provider-client communication are consistently weak across countries, regions, and health services, said the report. Yet, experience in the developed world has shown that providers can improve their interpersonal skills, which leads to improved health outcomes.

The researchers provided IPC training and evaluations in Honduras, Trinidad and Tobago, and Egypt. The study used a pre-post design with a treatment group and a control group. An experimental group of 24 doctors and a control group of eight were studied. Exit interviews were carried out with 220 pre-test patients and 218 post-test patients. All 87 health providers who received training responded to the self-administered questionnaire.

A brief IPC training program was presented in three half-day sessions, which focused on overall socio-emotional communication, problem solving skills and counseling. As a result of the training, the intervention was associated with more communication by trained providers, more positive talk, less negative dialogue, more emotional conversation, and more medical counseling.

Patients responded by communicating more and disclosing more medical information. Patient satisfaction ratings also were higher for providers who had received the training.

The study showed that IPC is effective and feasible, and that local staff can be trained to conduct the course. Providers and researchers felt that IPC training supports other efforts to improve quality of care by enhancing the quality of information upon which to base diagnosis and treatment and by enabling providers to more effectively deliver counseling messages.


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The Quality Assurance Project (QAP) is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID) under Contract Number GPH-C-00-02-00004-00.