Artificial Intelligence Supporting the Training of Communication Skills in the Education of Health Care Professions: Scoping Review


BACKGROUND: Communication is a crucial element of every health care profession, rendering communication skills training in all health care professions as being of great importance. Technological advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) and particularly machine learning (ML) may support this cause: it may provide students with an opportunity for easily accessible and readily available communication training. OBJECTIVE: This scoping review aimed to summarize the status quo regarding the use of AI or ML in the acquisition of communication skills in academic health care professions. METHODS: We conducted a comprehensive literature search across the PubMed, Scopus, Cochrane Library, Web of Science Core Collection, and CINAHL databases to identify articles that covered the use of AI or ML in communication skills training of undergraduate students pursuing health care profession education. Using an inductive approach, the included studies were organized into distinct categories. The specific characteristics of the studies, methods and techniques used by AI or ML applications, and main outcomes of the studies were evaluated. Furthermore, supporting and hindering factors in the use of AI and ML for communication skills training of health care professionals were outlined. RESULTS: The titles and abstracts of 385 studies were identified, of which 29 (7.5%) underwent full-text review. Of the 29 studies, based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 12 (3.1%) were included. The studies were organized into 3 distinct categories: studies using AI and ML for text analysis and information extraction, studies using AI and ML and virtual reality, and studies using AI and ML and the simulation of virtual patients, each within the academic training of the communication skills of health care professionals. Within these thematic domains, AI was also used for the provision of feedback. The motivation of the involved agents played a major role in the implementation process. Reported barriers to the use of AI and ML in communication skills training revolved around the lack of authenticity and limited natural flow of language exhibited by the AI- and ML-based virtual patient systems. Furthermore, the use of educational AI- and ML-based systems in communication skills training for health care professionals is currently limited to only a few cases, topics, and clinical domains. CONCLUSIONS: The use of AI and ML in communication skills training for health care professionals is clearly a growing and promising field with a potential to render training more cost-effective and less time-consuming. Furthermore, it may serve learners as an individualized and readily available exercise method. However, in most cases, the outlined applications and technical solutions are limited in terms of access, possible scenarios, the natural flow of a conversation, and authenticity. These issues still stand in the way of any widespread implementation ambitions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere43311
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Pages (from-to)e43311
Publication statusPublished - 19.06.2023

Research Areas and Centers

  • Centers: Center for Artificial Intelligence Luebeck (ZKIL)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 109-02 General and Domain-Specific Teaching and Learning
  • 109-04 Educational Research on Socialization and Professionalism

Cite this