Development of a blended communication training program for managing medically unexplained symptoms in primary care using the intervention mapping approach

Juul Houwen*, Olga A de Bont, Peter LBJ Lucassen, Judith G M Rosmalen, Hugo W Stappers, Tim C Olde Hartman, Sandra van Dulmen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: General practice (GP) training in how to communicate with patients with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) is limited.

OBJECTIVE: Development, implementation and evaluation of an evidence-based communication training program for GP residents focused on patients with MUS in primary care.

METHODS: We used the intervention mapping (IM) framework to systematically develop the MUS training program. We conducted a needs assessment to formulate change objectives and identified teaching methods for a MUS communication training program. Next, we developed, implemented and evaluated the training program with 46 residents by assessing their self-efficacy and by exploring their experiences with the training.

RESULTS: The resulting program is a blended training with an online course and two training days. After attending the training program, GP residents reported significantly higher self-efficacy for communication with patients with MUS at four weeks follow up compared to baseline. Furthermore, GP residents experienced the training program as useful and valued the combination of the online course and training days.

CONCLUSION AND PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: We developed an evidence-based communication training program for the management of patients with MUS in primary care. Future research should examine the effect of the training on GP residents' communication skills in MUS consultations in daily practice.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14-Sep-2021

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