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Involving patients in the development of interpersonal skills of optometry students

  • Schmid, Katrina L.
  • Hopkins, Shelley
  • Huynh, Tina
Publication Date
May 01, 2020
Queensland University of Technology ePrints Archive


Background : Providing patients an opportunity to give feedback to optometry students on their communication and interpersonal skills allows for a unique learning opportunity. The aim of the current project was to determine if the Doctors’ Interpersonal Skills Questionnaire (DISQ) was suitable for use with optometry students in a large teaching clinic and if it provided useful feedback to the students for learning purposes. Methods : The DISQ is a 12-item questionnaire that utilises a five-point Likert scale; a higher score indicates better performance. The DISQ was modified for an optometry context and developed into an online questionnaire. Patients were invited to complete the survey following their consultation with a final year student. Patients provided feedback on the interpersonal skills of the student optometrist who conducted the consultation under supervision. Students were provided with both individual and collated feedback obtained for the entire student group; strategies for improving communication were discussed. This activity did not form part of the grades of the students. Results : Patients were very satisfied with the interpersonal skills of final year optometry students. Highest scores were given for questions relating to the warmth of greeting, respect shown and time given. Lowest scores were for questions relating to explanations, reassurance and confidence. There was a significant improvement in the communication and interpersonal skills of students following the provision of patient feedback and strategies for improving these skills, and an additional period of clinical experience. Conclusion : Patients can provide feedback on the interpersonal skills of optometry students using the DISQ. This feedback results in further skill development for students and makes patients feel valued within the teaching clinic environment. This activity assisted in ensuring that graduating optometrists have the interpersonal skills required to communicate clearly and effectively with patients, a requirement for practising with a patient-centred focus.

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