Attachment styles and clinical communication performance in trainee doctors

Fletcher, Ian John and McCallum, Rachel Fiona and Peters, Sarah (2016) Attachment styles and clinical communication performance in trainee doctors. Patient Education and Counseling, 99 (11). pp. 1852-1857. ISSN 0738-3991

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Objective To investigate the relationship between trainee doctors’ attachment style and their performance in qualifying clinical and communication skills assessments. Methods Participants were 190 undergraduate medical students whose performance was assessed by examiners across two areas (communication and clinical skills) during their qualifying Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE). Simulated patients also rated communication skills. Participants’ attachment style was rated across two dimensions, avoidance and anxiety, with the Relationship Questionnaire (RQ). Results Lower levels of attachment avoidance and anxiety were significant predictors of higher performance in both communication and clinical skills. Conclusion Trainee doctors’ attachment styles are associated with patient communication and clinical performance. Further research is needed to investigate the impact of attachment on consultations between doctors and patients within clinical settings. Practice implication Attachment theory can inform our understanding why, for some student doctors, interacting with patients may be particularly challenging and require additional support by medical educators.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Patient Education and Counseling
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Patient Education and Counseling. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Patient Education and Counseling, 99, 11, 2016 DOI: 10.1016/j.pec.2016.05.019
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01 Jun 2016 13:40
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 01:52