Thursday, February 16, 2017

Health Literacy and Clear Communication Training for Pediatrics Interns

Christopher Bugnitz
Dayton Children's Hospital

Background: Health literacy (HL) training occurs in undergraduate medical education, but little is published regarding formal HL training in residency, particularly in pediatrics.

Aims: We sought to develop and test a HL and clear communication training program for pediatrics interns.

Methods: 47 pediatrics interns were randomly assigned to two groups. Previous health literacy training data was obtained and baseline knowledge was assessed. Baseline use of clear communication skills was assessed with an objective standardized clinical examination (OSCE). Training consisted of small group interactive sessions and 2 online self-guided modules. During round 1, Group 1 received the training while Group 2 functioned as the control. Both groups were then assessed using the same methods (knowledge quiz and OSCE). During round 2, Group 2 received the training while Group 1 did not. Final assessments of both groups occurred after round 2.

Results: Minimal significant differences were found between intervention groups as a result of the health literacy training. However, globally there was significant improvement in OSCE scores from OSCE 1 to OSCE 2 for most items, with continued significant improvement in one item, “Use of Clear Language,” from OSCE 2 to OSCE 3. Short term follow-up did not demonstrate significant loss or gain of skills.

Conclusion: Targeted communication training may lead to significant gains in the use of clear communication practices. Creating a culture of health literacy awareness may be more important than a formal health literacy curriculum for attainment and retention of these skills.