Sociolinguistic factors affecting performance in the Clinical Skills Assessment of the MRCGP: a mixed methods approach

Hawthorne, Kamila and Roberts, Celia and Atkins, Sarah (2017) Sociolinguistic factors affecting performance in the Clinical Skills Assessment of the MRCGP: a mixed methods approach. BJGP Open, 1 (1). pp. 1-9. ISSN 2398-3795

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Background: Differential performance in clinical skills assessments is a widespread phenomenon, for which there remain few explanations.

Aim: To better understand the conversational contexts of simulated consultations and how candidates actually behave in these consultations and to determine sociolinguistic factors for high and low-performing candidates.

Design & setting: Taking the Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners’ (MRCGP) clinical skills assessment (CSA) examination as a model, this research applied sociolinguistic analyses to case videos of 198 consecutive candidates presenting for the CSA examination. Method: Using a mixed-methods approach, both quantitative and qualitative sociolinguistics methodologies were combined to analyse video consultations, and findings were compared with those from group discussions with MRCGP examiners.

Results: There is more ‘talk’ in simulated consultations than in real life. On macroanalysis, there was little difference between poor- and well-performing candidates. However, microanalysis found subtle differences in structuring consultations, metacommunication, picking up cues, and misunderstandings with and giving explanations to patients. Formulaic talk, contrary to examiners’ perceptions was more common in successful candidates, but it was personalised and sited appropriately in the consultation.

Conclusion: This is an interactionally demanding form of clinical assessment, that requires giving support to candidates and a more analytic approach to the development of interpersonal skills. Sociolinguistic features of consulting to help trainers and candidates prepare for the CSA are identified.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: simulated consultations; communication skills; assessment; sociolinguistics; general practice
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Arts > School of English
Identification Number: bjgpopen17X100713
Depositing User: Sanchez-Davies, Jennifer
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2018 15:03
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:34

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