Old Version

Doctors Over-confident in Ability to Communicate Effectively with Patients: Survey

While 80% of clinicians thought they were great communicators, patients were often confused by their diagnostic information, and this can lead to disputes

By Zhang Qingchen Updated Apr.16

A joint survey from the Shanghai-based Fudan University and the medical knowledge website www.dxy.cn on the level of communication between clinicians and patients found that some 80 percent of doctors are confident when they communicate with their patients, even though the survey showed significant communication problems between doctors and patients, the Shanghai-based news portal Jiemian.com reported.  

Fudan University’s Health Communication Institute and www.dxy.cn used a random sample of 1,236 respondents - 735 doctors and 501 patients. They surveyed how doctors evaluate their own communication behavior, and how patients evaluate their abilities and attitudes when talking with doctors. They also asked for mutual evaluations between doctors and patients.  

Despite the doctors' confidence in their own abilities, the results revealed that doctors and patients do not engage in efficient and active interaction. Doctors particlarly lacked the ability to provide insightful and useful diagnostic information for patients.  

Sun Shaojing, associate head of Fudan University’s Health Communication Institute, said that doctors need to be better trained in how to appropriately offer information to patients, and they should give clear diagnostic information so patients understand their condition. Patients should be encouraged to ask questions if they do not understand.

The communication problems also extend to those between doctors and patients’ relatives. There are often disputes between doctors and patients and their relatives, and some of these have turned violent, even fatal. Sun suggested that patients should also engage in emotional management education.