The aim of this study was to explore the internal structure of an instrument assessing dental students' confidence in their ability to communicate with patients in six specific circumstances (anxious, in pain, etc.) using exploratory factor analysis. In a Communication in the Dental Health Care Setting course at a U.S. dental school, second-year dental students in two years (2013 and 2014) responded to the six items on a survey instrument. Of the total 123 students, 122 fully completed the instrument, for a response rate of 99%. Analysis of the results identified a unidimensional scale with regards to patient-specific communication self-efficacy and explained 74% of the total variance. The scale had good internal consistency reflected by high Cronbach's alpha (α=0.929, 95% CI [0.907, 0.947]). These findings suggest the instrument may be a useful tool in assessing the development of patient communication skills in second-year dental students following a course in communication. Further exploration utilizing confirmatory analysis, determining predictive validity, and assessing convergent and discriminant evidence is warranted.

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Published in Journal of Dental Education, v. 80, no. 1, p. 58-64.

Reprinted by permission of Journal of Dental Education, Volume 80, 1 (January 2016). Copyright 2016 by the American Dental Education Association. http://www.jdentaled.org

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