The effects of communication skills training on pediatricians' and parents' communication during "sick child" visits

Nancy Grant Harrington, Gretchen R. Norling, Florence M. Witte, Judith Taylor, James E. Andrews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


This article reports the development and evaluation of a physician-parent communication skills training program designed to improve communication regarding antibiotic prescribing for children. Four pediatricians and 81 parents participated in the study, which involved audio-taping "sick child" office visits and then coding transcripts for evidence of program influence on information seeking, giving, and verifying, as well as relational communication. Parents who received training were more likely to verify information, t(79) = 1.82, p = .04, and more likely to express concerns, t(79) = 1.79, p = .04, than were parents who did not receive training; there was a nonsignificant trend for trained parents to be more likely to give information, t(79) = 1.7, p = .051. In terms of physician behavior, there were nonsignificant trends for physicians to spend more time creating a partnership with parents after training than before training, t(3) = 2.29, p = .053, and to encourage more questions from parents after training than before, t(3) = 2.15, p -.06. In addition, once one outlier parent in the control condition was removed from the analysis, the results showed that physicians spent more time addressing treatment options after training than before, t(3) = 2.9, p = .03. The results of this study are considered promising, with effects shown for various important elements of physician-parent communication. Implications of results and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Directed Source 02054, Nancy Harrington, principal investigator. We gratefully acknowledge Dr. Donald Cegala, Dr. Tanya Stivers, and Dr. Karen Blumenschein for their assistance, and Dr. Carol Steltenkamp and Sharmin Martin, RN, nurse manager of the University of Kentucky General Pediatrics Clinic in Lexington, and all of the clinic nurses who facilitated the study.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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