The Most Common Feedback Themes in Communication Skills Training in an Internal Medicine Residency Program: Lessons from the Resident Audio-Recording Project

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Individualized structured feedback is an integral part of a resident’s learning in communication skills. However, it is not clear what feedback residents receive for their communication skills development in real patient care. We will identify the most common feedback topics given to residents regarding communication skills during Internal Medicine residency training. We analyzed Resident Audio-recording Project feedback data from 2008 to 2013 by using a content analysis approach. Using open coding and an iterative categorization process, we identified 15 emerging themes for both positive and negative feedback. The most recurrent feedback topics were Patient education, Thoroughness, Organization, Questioning strategy, and Management. The residents were guided to improve their communication skills regarding Patient education, Thoroughness, Management, and Holistic exploration of patient’s problem. Thoroughness and Communication intelligibility were newly identified themes that were rarely discussed in existing frameworks. Assessment rubrics serve as a lens through which we assess the adequacy of the residents’ communication skills. Rather than sticking to a specific rubric, we chose to let the rubric evolve through our experience.