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Medical improvisation improves communication skills among healthcare professionals

Heidi Preis, Elizabeth Bojsza, Laura Lindenfeld, Susmita Pati


While medical improvisation is emerging as a promising strategy for communication training, little is known about its effects on interdisciplinary healthcare teams and there is a need to advance knowledge about the impact of engagement during the training on communication skill improvement. We evaluated changes in communication skills among 132 healthcare professionals from one department at a large U.S. medical center who participated in medical improvisation (improv) communication training developed by a multidisciplinary team at a provost-level university-based center dedicated to communicating science. Participants took part in one of 15 single session in-person workshops delivered in October 2020 and co-facilitated by an improv expert and a seasoned clinician-scientist leader. Participants completed questionnaires regarding their communication skills before and after taking part in the training. Most of the self-reported communication skills that were assessed showed improvement following the workshop. Improvements were reported in 7 out of 8 communication skills that were assessed. Moreover, engagement moderated the effects of the training — among those with lowest pre-training communication skills, higher levels of engagement predicted greater improvement in communication skills, whereas low engagement predicted little change following the training. Medical improvisation is a promising approach to improve communication in healthcare. Further research is needed to estimate long-term effects of medical improvisation training and investigate ways to increase participant engagement.


Medical improvisation; Communication training; Interdisciplinary healthcare teams; Program evaluation

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Communication Center Journal