Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

The evaluation of training in patient-centred interviewing skills for psychiatric residents

M. Rimondinia1 c1, L. Del Piccoloa1, C. Gossa1, M. Mazzia1, M. Paccalonia1 and C. Zimmermanna1

a1 Department of Medicine and Public Health, Section of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, University of Verona, Verona, Italy


Background Communication skills are considered ‘core skills’ in the curriculum of psychiatry but studies evaluating the effectiveness of a time-limited training course in interviewing skills in psychiatry have remained rare. The aim was to assess the effectiveness of training in patient-centred interviewing on the interview performance of psychiatric residents.

Method Psychiatric residents (n=10) each interviewed 12 different anonymized standardized patients (SPs), eight before and another four after training. SPs simulated psychiatric out-patients who attended for a first visit to the psychiatric out-patient clinic. The consultations were videotaped, transcribed and coded with a classification scheme developed for psychiatric consultations from which an interview performance index was derived. An interrupted time-series design and a segmented regression analysis with multilevel analysis explored the performance trend within the series of consultations.

Results The regression model evidenced a horizontal slope at pre- and post-training, with a significant level change. These findings excluded the presence of a practice effect and indicated a significant effect of training. Performance variability between and within residents over the series of consultations increased at post-training.

Conclusions The training improved patient-centred interviewing performance. More post-training exercise time and supervised practice are necessary to establish consistent performance patterns at a higher skill level.

(Received March 10 2008)

(Revised June 05 2009)

(Accepted June 15 2009)

(Online publication July 23 2009)


c1 Address for correspondence: M. Rimondini, Ph.D., Dipartimento di Medicina e Sanità Pubblica, Università di Verona, Policlinico G.B. Rossi, Piazzale L.A. Scuro 10, 37134 Verona, Italy. (Email: