Review - Case cards for GP communication skills

An innovative tool that can improve communication. By Dr Meena Nathan.

Case Cards: the box contains 120 cards explaining how to deal with consulting challenges (Photograph: Emma Platt)
Case Cards: the box contains 120 cards explaining how to deal with consulting challenges (Photograph: Emma Platt)

Case Cards was developed by four GPs and is supported by the Wessex Faculty of the RCGP.

It is a box containing 120 cards outlining common consulting challenges.

'Case' stands for 'communicate, articulate, simplify, explain'.

Each card is unique and gives practical advice and explanation. The focus is on the words to use when communicating with a patient. There are also 'red questions' at the bottom of each card, which act as interesting points for thought, discussion or personal reading.

There is an accompanying index manual, which splits the cards into 20 categories, such as children and young people, sexual health and mental health. These categories are mapped against the curriculum.

Case Cards is an exciting concept, and an excellent development tool for communication skills. The box is easy to carry around and great to use when you have a spare moment by yourself or as part of group learning. It can even be used as a game to keep you stimulated.

It was written during the GPs' preparations for exams, and edited by experts in GP consultations.

Straightforward language
The straightforward language is particularly helpful. The cards clearly explain how to talk to patients about topics including new diagnosis, health promotion, chronic conditions and prescribing.

This tool is helpful for the explanation part of the consultation. A good explanation is important in achieving a shared understanding between patient and doctor, helping the patient to participate in their health decisions.

It is vital that we demonstrate this skill in the CSA exam, and feedback from the RCGP has suggested that this is an area of weakness for some exam candidates.

Case Cards avoids medical jargon, which helps you tell patients what they need to know in a way they can understand.

I found it improved my ability to talk to patients in day-to-day practice. In addition, it is an excellent resource when preparing for the CSA exam.

Dr Nathan is a GP registrar in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

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