Randomised controlled trial of a brief intervention targeting predominantly non-verbal communication in general practice consultations

Little, P., White, P., Kelly, J., Everitt, H. and Mercer, S. (2015) Randomised controlled trial of a brief intervention targeting predominantly non-verbal communication in general practice consultations. British Journal of General Practice, 65(635), e351-e356. (doi:10.3399/bjgp15X685237) (PMID:26009529)

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Background The impact of changing non-verbal consultation behaviours is unknown.

Aim To assess brief physician training on improving predominantly non-verbal communication.

Design and setting Cluster randomised parallel group trial among adults aged ≥16 years attending general practices close to the study coordinating centres in Southampton.

Method Sixteen GPs were randomised to no training, or training consisting of a brief presentation of behaviours identified from a prior study (acronym KEPe Warm: demonstrating Knowledge of the patient; Encouraging [back-channelling by saying ‘hmm’, for example]; Physically engaging [touch, gestures, slight lean]; Warm-up: cool/professional initially, warming up, avoiding distancing or non-verbal cut-offs at the end of the consultation); and encouragement to reflect on videos of their consultation. Outcomes were the Medical Interview Satisfaction Scale (MISS) mean item score (1–7) and patients’ perceptions of other domains of communication.

Results Intervention participants scored higher MISS overall (0.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.06 to 0.41), with the largest changes in the distress–relief and perceived relationship subscales. Significant improvement occurred in perceived communication/partnership (0.29, 95% CI = 0.09 to 0.49) and health promotion (0.26, 95% CI = 0.05 to 0.46). Non-significant improvements occurred in perceptions of a personal relationship, a positive approach, and understanding the effects of the illness on life.

Conclusion Brief training of GPs in predominantly non-verbal communication in the consultation and reflection on consultation videotapes improves patients’ perceptions of satisfaction, distress, a partnership approach, and health promotion.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mercer, Professor Stewart
Authors: Little, P., White, P., Kelly, J., Everitt, H., and Mercer, S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > General Practice and Primary Care
Journal Name:British Journal of General Practice
Publisher:Royal College of General Practitioners
ISSN (Online):1478-5242

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