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ABIM Foundation Announces Grant to Enhance Physician – Patient Communication

July 10, 2012

Recognizing that many physicians feel compelled to accommodate patients' requests for interventions they know are unnecessary,1 and that patients need better information to help them understand that more care is not always better care, the ABIM Foundation recently awarded a grant of $50,000 to Drexel University College of Medicine to develop a set of interactive instructional modules to enhance physician and patient communication.

The modules will help advance the ABIM Foundation's Choosing Wisely campaign, designed to help physicians, patients and other health care stakeholders think and talk about overuse of health care resources. In April 2012, nine medical specialty societies released lists of "Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question." These lists provide specific, evidence-based recommendations physicians and patients should discuss to help make wise decisions about the most appropriate care based on their individual situation.

"Many physicians have told us they support the ideals of the Choosing Wisely campaign, but need help in having conversations with their patients about care that won't benefit them," said Christine K. Cassel, MD, president and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine and ABIM Foundation. "These new modules will provide the support they need and help physicians and patients work together to avoid unnecessary tests and procedures and improve care."

The modules will build upon the successes of, a comprehensive online resource on health care communication produced by Drexel University College of Medicine and the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare. This web-based communication skills learning tool for training in patient-doctor communication was developed by nationally and internationally recognized experts in the area of physician-patient communication. Launched in 2007, has succinct evidence-based text, over 400 videos, and a learning management system that allows students and faculty members to interact over a variety of communication skills topics.

"The modules will promote strategies for physicians to build trust and address patient attitudes and beliefs, and will be annotated with references showing the evidence base," said Pamela Duke, MD, assistant professor of medicine and a course director for the Clinical Skills and Primary Care practicums at Drexel University College of Medicine. "In addition the modules will include a feature that allows physicians to compare their attitudes and practices with others in their specialty and engage in more active learning." Other Drexel physicians working on this project include Dennis Novack, MD, Steven Rosenzweig, MD, and Christof Daetwyler, MD.

The ABIM Foundation grant will allow Drexel University College of Medicine to create learning modules based upon the Choosing Wisely lists. The modules, expected to be completed in early 2013, will reside on the websites of participating specialty societies. In fall 2012 additional specialty groups will release lists of Five Things Physicians and Patients Should Question, and new communications modules may be added in the future. The full list of Choosing Wisely participants can be found at

The mission of the ABIM Foundation is to advance medical professionalism to improve the health care system. We achieve this by collaborating with physicians and physician leaders, medical trainees, health care delivery systems, payers, policy makers, consumer organizations and patients to foster a shared understanding of professionalism and how they can adopt the tenets of professionalism in practice. To learn more about the ABIM Foundation, visit, connect with us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

1: "Professionalism in medicine: results of a national survey of physicians"
Campbell EG, et al.
Ann Intern Med., 147(11):795-802 (2007)