Patient perceptions of allied health student communication and interpersonal skills: A cross-sectional study

Nicholas Tripodi, Sarah Cossar, Jessica Davidson, Ryan Farmer, Jessica Gorbonos, Amelia McDonald, Melanie Pierlot


Introduction: Effective patient–practitioner communication contributes to patient health outcomes by strengthening therapeutic relationships and, in the process, contributing to overall quality of patient care. Despite the growth of student-led university teaching clinics, little research has investigated communication skills within this context. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the patient-perceived levels of communication and interpersonal skills within a student-led allied health clinic.

Methods: The Communication Assessment Tool (CAT) was used to collect cross-sectional data on patients’ perceptions of student communication and interpersonal skills within an osteopathy teaching clinic. Data were analysed via descriptive and inferential statistics.

Results: According to the CAT, patients perceived the students’ communication and interpersonal skills to be “excellent” overall (97.2%). No significant differences were found between percentage of “excellent” responses and gender (p = .600), number of consultations (p = .374) or pain duration (p = .741).

Conclusions: Patients in this setting perceive student communication and interpersonal skills to be of a high standard. This can contribute positively to the patient–practitioner therapeutic alliance and may improve overall health outcomes. These findings have implications for communication training within student-led health professions clinics and tertiary curricula more broadly.


practitioner communication; allied health education; communication assessment tool; communication skills; health outcomes

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