Objective To examine the characteristics of the communication skills of medical students, we observed their performance during introductory medical interview training with simulated patients (SPs).
Methods The subjects of the present study included fifth-year medical students (male, n=180, female, n=99) who were undergoing clinical training in Japan from 2012 to 2014. Each student was assigned to one of four 10-minute clinical scenarios, which was conducted with an SP. Three or four teachers observed and assessed the performance of each of the students. The overall performance was rated on a 10-point scale, and nine basic communication skills that were common to each of the scenarios were rated using a four-point scale. The students also assessed their own performance on these items. The SPs assessed the students' performance from a patient's perspective on four items.
Results There were significant correlations between the teacher and student scores. However, the students tended to score themselves significantly lower than the teachers. The female students were rated significantly higher by the teachers on the following four items; 'eye contact and appropriate attitude,' 'nodding and back-channeling,' 'giving empathic verbal responses,' and 'acquisition of patient's psychosocial information.' However, the self-assessments of the female students were only significantly higher than the male students in one item, 'acquisition of patient's psychosocial information.' In contrast, self-assessments of the male students were significantly higher in two items; none of their items was scored higher by the teachers. There was no significant gender difference in the assessments made by the SPs.
Conclusion There were significant gender differences in the communication skills of the medical students during introductory training, suggesting the possibility that there were gender-specific traits and gender-based differences in the students' degrees of readiness.