Communication Skills Module for OSCE

Communication skills


  • Gather salient information from material provided
  • Classify the problems into medical and psychosocial to deal with each separately
  • Anticipate the state of patient’s mind (angry/anxious/bereaved) by asking yourself “How would I feel in this situation?”
  • Setting:
    • Leave your pager with colleague to avoid being disturbed
    • Select a private, tranquil room and arrange the chairs to ensure that you are positioned in a non-defensive and approachable manner


  • Greetings
  • Provide your name and position
  • Ask for their name and relation to the patient
  • Ask for consent from the patient if you are communicating with family members
  • Ask the patient if they wish to be alone or accompanied (by friend, family member or nurse)
  • Consider giving warning shots if you are going to deliver important test results or bad news


  • Ask for patient’s/family member’s perspective (ICE)
  • Avoid medical jargons
  • Diagrams often help patient understanding
  • Explain the diagnosis/procedure and further information required
  • If asked about prognosis – you must not give specific information until you have the necessary results
  • In areas beyond your expertise – admit your incomplete knowledge and state that you will consult a senior colleague or seek advice from experts in other disciplines (multidisciplinary approach)
  • Body language:
    • Avoid defensive positions (arms crossed and lack of eye contact)
    • Demonstrate active interest (repeat the salient points communicated and seek clarifications)
    • Smile unless the patient or relative is upset and tearful (in such cases provide empathy, compassion or even a tissue)
    • Apologize if there has been a misunderstanding or mistake


  • Ask the other person to repeat back what he/she has understood
  • Address if any confusion, miscommunication or disagreement using “ICE” once again
  • Patient has right to refuse treatment
  • Schedule for 2nd meeting if immediate solution or compromise cannot be reached


  • Summarize what has been communicated
  • Provide agreed management plan
  • Give your name, position and contact details for future communications
  • Thank the person for their time and close the session appropriately

The structural format can be remembered under the headings using mnemonic P I CX3.

  1. Preparation
  2. Introduction
  3. Consultation
  4. Consolidation
  5. Conclusion

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