2011 Volume 225 Issue 4 Pages 249-254
Medical education in Japan has undergone significant reforms. Patient perspective and outcome have been highly valued in curricular reforms. Therefore, we evaluated an undergraduate curriculum particularly on communication skills by comparing outpatient satisfaction before and after the reforms implemented at Saga Medical School. Cross-sectional study was conducted at the General Medicine Clinic of Saga University Hospital in 1999 and 2009. A total of 729 newcomer patients evaluated 159 students; namely, 287 patients evaluated sixth-year medical students (n = 82) in 1999, and in 2009, 442 patients evaluated fifth-year medical students (n = 77). Students interviewed newcomer patients prior to a faculty's clinical examination. After a student-patient encounter, the patient was asked to fill in six-item Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (PSQ) developed by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Mixed model two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with covariant of students' gender was conducted. Effect sizes were calculated to evaluate the amplitude of influence. The average score in 2009 was significantly higher than that in 1999 (3.63 ± 0.62 versus 3.36 ± 0.66; p < 0.001). Since the “encouraging and answering questions” and “clear explanations” were lower than those of the other items (3.24 ± 0.98 and 3.46 ± 0.85), these two items showed the most significant improvements (Phi coefficient = 0.31 and 0.24, p < 0.001). Thus, students' performance has improved since 1999, which may represent the success of curricular reforms at Saga Medical School. We propose that “encouraging and answering questions” and “clear explanations” should be emphasized in interview training.