Promoting interpersonal skills and cultural sensitivity among dental students.

Hillary L. Broder, Mal Janal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study evaluated interpersonal communication skills among third- and fourth-year dental students during two clinical communications training programs. Students participated in two clinical communications (CC) training sessions, each comprised of four encounters with patient instructors (PIs) who were trained to enact standardized patient scenarios. Scenarios in CC1 addressed straightforward patient care situations in dentistry (e.g., bridge adjustment), while CC2 added cultural sensitivity issues to the dental scenarios. After each encounter, patient instructors used the Arizona Clinical Interviewing Rating Scale (ACIR) to rate the students' interpersonal skills and gave the students feedback on their performance. The students also received feedback and coaching from dental school faculty in debriefings after encounters with the PIs. Students anonymously rated the program at the end of each session. To evaluate the program, students' performance was compared within and between the two training sessions. Analysis showed statistically significant increases in interpersonal communication skills within each training session (p<0.05) from unsatisfactory to above satisfactory levels. Performance scores at the start of CC2 were statistically lower than at the end of CC1, suggesting that performance wanes without practice. Student evaluations of the program were very positive. Interpersonal communication skills improved during this patient instructor program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-416
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Dentistry


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