The assessment of communication skills during OSCEs: development and trialled implementation of a new standardised model using the MAAS-Global Instrument
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Communication skills (CS) are important skills that have a major impact in healthcare outcomes. These outcomes include, for instance, increased patient understanding, patient satisfaction and better pain control. With forty years of professional experience, a general practitioner will usually have conducted between 120 to 160 thousand clinical consultations. In fact, most of the decisions made to sue physicians arise from communication problems rather that from the original illness. As in medical education settings, CS training invariably has a positive impact on student performance. An Objectives Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is a common measurement tool used to assess student CS. Concerning the OSCE, it has been reported that there has yet been no agreement reached amongst medical educators on the standard instrument to be used. the OSCE instrument serves as the station checklist. In order to draw meaningful interpretations of the assessment results, an instrument needs to be valid and reliable. Additionally, assessing CS is more difficult than assessing clinical skills. Furthermore, the lack of any standards in measuring CS precludes comparison of outcomes across assessment settings. In order to be able to compare, a standardised measurement is required.