BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: For years, family medicine has taught patient-centered communication through observations and observation checklists. We explored the utility of one checklist, the Patient-Centered Observation Form (PCOF), to teach and evaluate patient-centered communication in our family medicine residencies. METHODS: We conducted a mixed-method study of five University of Minnesota Family Medicine Residencies’ seven years of experience teaching and evaluating residents’ patient-centered communication skills. All programs have a behavioral health (BH) faculty-led observation curriculum that uses the PCOF to assess resident skills and give feedback. We conducted a BH faculty focus group and interviews, generated themes from the BH responses, and then queried family medicine (FM) faculty regarding these themes through an online survey. RESULTS: Ten BH faculty participated in the focus group/interviews, and 71% (25/35) of FM faculty completed the survey about themes derived from the BH interviews. The residencies complete between 1 to 11 observations per resident per year. Since implementation, four programs have continuously used the PCOF due to its versatility, design as a formative rather than summative feedback tool, and relative ease of use. BH faculty believe longitudinal observations with the PCOF resulted in improved resident patient-centered communication. Most importantly, all faculty described a shift in family medicine culture toward patient-centered communication. Time for observations and feedback is the primary curricular barrier. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings support the utility of the PCOF for teaching and evaluating patient-centered communication in family medicine training.
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