Impact of supervision and self-assessment on doctor-patient communication in rural Mexico

Young M.I. Kim, Maria Elena Figueroa, Antonieta Martin, Ricardo Silva, Sixto F. Acosta, Manuel Hurtado, Paul Richardson, Adrienne Kols

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. To determine whether supervision and self-assessment activities can improve doctor-patient communication. Setting and participants. Six supervisors, 60 doctors in their last year of training, and 232 primary health care patients at rural health clinics in Michoacan, Mexico. Design. The main evaluation compared post-intervention measures in control and intervention groups. A small panel study also examined changes from baseline to post-intervention rounds in both groups. Intervention. Over a 4-month period, specially trained supervisors added 1 hour of supervision on interpersonal communication and counseling (IPC/C) to regular site visits. Doctors, who had received prior IPC/C training, periodically audiotaped and assessed their own consultations. Main outcome measures. These comprised frequency of doctors' facilitative communication, doctors' biomedical information-giving, and patients' active communication. Results. The performance of all doctors improved markedly over the study period, but gains in facilitative communication and information-giving were significantly greater in the intervention than the control group. No single component of the intervention was responsible for the improvement; it resulted from the combination of activities. The doctors appreciated the more supportive relationship with supervisors that resulted from the intervention and found listening to themselves on audiotape a powerful, although initially stressful, experience. Conclusion. Supportive supervision and self-assessment activities can reinforce IPC/C training, prompt reflection and learning, and help novice doctors improve their interpersonal communication skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-367
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal for Quality in Health Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002


  • Communication
  • Physician-patient relations
  • Quality of care
  • Self-assessment
  • Supervision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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