Effect of an educational intervention on medical student scripting and patient satisfaction: A randomized trial

Katie E. Pettit, Joseph S. Turner, Katherine A. Pollard, Bryce B. Buente, Aloysius J. Humbert, Anthony J. Perkins, Cherri D. Hobgood, Jeffrey A. Kline

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Introduction: Effective communication between clinicians and patients has been shown to improve patient outcomes, reduce malpractice liability, and is now being tied to reimbursement. Use of a communication strategy known as “scripting” has been suggested to improve patient satisfaction in multiple hospital settings, but the frequency with which medical students use this strategy and whether this affects patient perception of medical student care is unknown. Our objective was to measure the use of targeted communication skills after an educational intervention as well as to further clarify the relationship between communication element usage and patient satisfaction. Methods: Medical students were block randomized into the control or intervention group. Those in the intervention group received refresher training in scripted communication. Those in the control group received no instruction or other intervention related to communication. Use of six explicit communication behaviors were recorded by trained study observers: 1) acknowledging the patient by name, 2) introducing themselves as medical students, 3) explaining their role in the patient’s care, 4) explaining the care plan, 5) providing an estimated duration of time to be spent in the emergency department (ED), and 6) notifying the patient that another provider would also be seeing them. Patients then completed a survey regarding their satisfaction with the medical student encounter. Results: We observed 474 medical student-patient encounters in the ED (231 in the control group and 243 in the intervention group). We were unable to detect a statistically significant difference in communication element use between the intervention and control groups. One of the communication elements, explaining steps in the care plan, was positively associated with patient perception of the medical student’s overall communication skills. Otherwise, there was no statistically significant association between element use and patient satisfaction. Conclusion: We were unable to demonstrate any improvement in student use of communication elements or in patient satisfaction after refresher training in scripted communication. Furthermore, there was little variation in patient satisfaction based on the use of scripted communication elements. Effective communication with patients in the ED is complicated and requires further investigation on how to provide this skill set. [West J Emerg Med. 2018;19(3)585-592.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-592
Number of pages8
JournalWestern Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine


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