oa African Journal of Health Professions Education - Discovering the value of personality types in communication training for pharmacy students : research

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5127



The current movement in the pharmacy profession, from the product towards the patient, demands new educational approaches that support the exit-level outcomes of the South African Pharmacy Council as implemented in 2013. Patient-centred communication calls for an ability to 'walk in the patients' shoes'. Pharmacists, like others, are naturally inclined to think and treat others as they themselves perceive the world, which can result in miscommunication.

To determine the prevalence of the 16 different Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) communication styles, and compare them with the prevalence of these styles in the South African (SA) population. Furthermore, to determine the possibility of a pharmacy student interacting with a patient with a similar communication style.
A novel way to sensitise pharmacists to the differences in people's experiences, behaviours and communication styles is to introduce them to type theory with the MBTI®. A survey design was used to determine 786 pharmacy students' communication styles, using the MBTI®. These students were enrolled for the subject 'Communication for pharmacists' at the largest pharmacy school in SA.
More students were consistently found with Sensing Feeling preferences than in the general SA population. The possibility that a pharmacy student might consult with a patient with a similar style varied between one and 414 chances out of 10 000 consultations.
This study highlights the importance and possibility of using the MBTI® as part of communication training of pharmacy students. Sensitising students to their own preferences and those of their patients empowers them to patient-centred communication.

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