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Communication skills of physicians during patient interaction in an in-patient setting at Tikur Anbessa Specialized Teaching Hospital (TASH), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2009

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Background: Physician-patient relationship is foremost among the numerous qualities needed for sound patient care. In the Ethiopian clinical setting, a vast majority of patients complain that physicians do not interact with them properly. Objective: Assess behavior of physicians (verbal and nonverbal) when interacting with patients. Methods: Randomly selected physicians were observed in doctor-patient interactions in an inpatient setting using a standardized check list at Tikur Anbessa Hospital in November, 2009.Mean comparison of total scores of each category as well as mean interaction and biomedical exam times were made using Pearson’s Chi square, and Student’s T test. Results: 211 interactions were observed. 22.7% were consultants, 49.7% were residents and 26.5% were interns. Mean total score of observed behavior ranged from poor to satisfactory across category and showed statistically significant variations. Average interaction time was 7.87 minutes while average biomedical exam time was 5.05 minutes. The means showed a significant variation (p=0.001 at 95% CI). Conclusion: The study has shown that there is a reasonable ground to suggest that physician-patient interaction has deficiencies. Due attention should be given to improve communication skills of physicians.


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