Communication skills workshop

Communication skills are identified as an essential component for a medical professional worldwide. Doctors are constantly required to interact not only with patients and but also with their superiors, colleagues, various groups of people who make up the staff of a hospital and occasionally the media. Maintaining a professional demeanour while communicating in an empathic manner - particularly in stressful situations - is a skill that needs to be developed and reinforced. In many countries training in communication skills is mandatory before assuming a post as a medical officer. Global literature has proved that communication skills can be developed and improved upon. At present formal training for the development of this skill has not yet been included in the curriculum of either undergraduate or postgraduate medical studies. This workshop intends to provide post-interns with a means to expand their knowledge and understanding of this vital and continually used skill.
Vision and Mission and Organization structure of National Council for Communication
 in Health care- Sri Lanka



NCCSHSL is the professional home for medical professionals, researchers, educators, and other stakeholders committed to improving 

communication and relationships in healthcare. It is a home that provides opportunities for collaboration, support and personal and professional 



A health care system where patients, medical professionals, nurses, other healthcare staff,   and trainees feel valued, respected, understood, and 

are actively engaged in healthcare processes and decision making.



  1. To facilitate the exchange of ideas and products of teaching and research activities related to communication across a network of individuals and institutions in Sri Lanka and beyond.


  1. To contribute to the improvement in communication in healthcare settings in Sri Lanka based on research evidence.


  1. To guide communication teaching in basic, post-basic, orientation, in-service, post-graduate and international training programmes conducted in Sri Lanka.


  1. To establish best practices and improve communication to comply with the changing needs of health delivery which emphasize a patient centered approach, shared responsibility and decision making.


  1. To stimulate the growth of an active network of healthcare professionals who work in team spirit towards the goal of improving patient care and people’s lives.


  1. To generate more revenue under knowledge economy by improving Communication Skills among doctors.


  1. To pool the resources to develop the National Communication Skills Council in Health Care


Structure of the National Council for Communication in Healthcare- Sri Lanka


Structure of the National Council for Communication in Healthcare- Sri Lanka

Communication Skills Council Members


Master trainers



Dr Anuruddha Padeniya

  • Founder of the “National Council for Communication Skills in Health Care -Sri Lanka” (NCCSHSL) Skills Council
  • Consultant Pediatric Neurologist/President GMOA



Dr Ruwan Ferdinando

  • Head of The faculty
  • Consultant community physician/ Deputy Director NIHS Kalutara


   lasanthaDr Lasantha Jinadasa

  •  Master Trainer
  • Secretary GMOA


dineshan  Dr Dineshan Ranasinghe

  • Master Trainer
  • Communication skills programme Coordinator
  •  PG trainee in Family Medicine


buddhikaDr Buddhika Mahesh

  • Master Trainer
  • PG trainee -Community Medicine



Dr Aruna Sandanayake

  • Master Trainer
  • PG Trainee -Admin


Dr. Prasantha Gamageprasantha


Dr N.M. Priyankarapriyankara

  • Master Trainer
  • Regional Epidemioligist Badulla


samanthanandaDr Samantha Ananda

  • Master Trainer
  • Editor GMOA


Dr Sarada Kannnansharadagara

  • Master Trainer
  • Senior Registrar in Gyn & Obs Oncology



Dr Upul Indunil

  • Master Trainer
  • Medical officer in Health Harispaththuwa


surangaDr W.P.G. Suranga Warnasuriya

  • Master Trainer
  • SMO in Psychiatry Professorial Unit TH Peradeniya



 Dr Tharaka Fernando

  • Master Trainer
  • Registrar in Psychiatry



Dr Nadee Peiris

  • Master Trainer
  •  Medical officer LRH



Dr Kosala Muthukumarana

  • Master Trainer
  • Senior Counselor Cancer control unit
  • Medical Officer Palliative Care Unit



Dr Sidath WIjesekara

  • Master Trainer
  • Medical officer Cancer Institute Maharagama



Dr Rimaza Niyaz

  • Master Trainer
  • Medical officer Maligawatta



Dr L. Sumangalie Perera

  • Master Trainer
  • Dental Medical Officer



Dr Thusitha Kahaduwa

  • Master Trainer
  • Medical officer in Vascular Surgery
  • Advanced Dip in counselling psychology,



Dr Kalum Dhammika

  • Master Trainer
  • Medical officer


Dr Sameera Hewage

  • Master Trainer
  • PG Trainee in Community Medicine



  • Master Trainer
  • Diplomate in Sports Medicine

Dr Sampath Atapaththu

  • Master Trainer
  • Medical officer TH Kandy



Dr. DilanthaDharmagunawardana

Senior Registrar Medical Administration


rashanDr Rashan Haniffa

Consultant Anesthetist


sameeraDr Sameera Senannayake

PG Trainee Community Medicine

 Trainers in Communication


Dr. A. Lathaharan

  • Trainer in Communication
  • PG trainee in Community Medicine


  Dr Saman Abeywardasamanna

  • Past Secretary GMOA
  • Medical Officer Anesthesia NHSL


amilaDr Amila Gunawardana

  • Trainer In Communication
  • Medical Officer LRH



Dr Naveen Desoysa

  • Trainer In Communication
  • Ass Secretary GMOA


nalindaDr Nalinda Herath

  • Trainer In Communication
  • Ass Secretary GMOA


  1. Dr.S.W.K.M.B. Bulankulame
  2. Dr. JagathKumara  Pelandagama
  3. Dr. Jagath Chandra Samarasekara
  4. Dr. DamithWijethunga
  5. Dr. DananjayaSamarasinghe
  6. Dr. YogasinghamRuthra
  7. Dr. K.C.P. Gunathilake
  8. Dr. BadrikaGunawardena
  9. Dr. Samanchandra
  10.  Dr. W.A.N.N. Peries
  11.  Dr. S. Alahapperuma
  12.  Dr. D.S.A.F. Deerasinghe
  13.  Dr. E.K.D.M. Priyadarshana
  14.  Dr.SujeewaKarunathilake
  15. Dr. SujeewaSenanayake
  16. Dr. B. Kirushanthan
  17. Dr. K.C.P. Perera
  18. Dr. K.L.M.D. Seneviwickrama
  19. Dr. P.B.V.R. Kumari
  20. Dr. I.P. Godakumbura
  21. Dr. ChathumiJayawardena
  22. Dr.ParakramaWarnasuriya
  23. Dr. RasikaDewapriya
  24. Dr. M.T.D. Lakshan
  25. Dr. NimaliWidhanapathirana
  26. Dr. ThimothyWickramasekara
  27. Dr. AmilaWeerasinghe
  28. Dr. AmilaMaduragoda
  29. Dr. ChamilWijekoon
  30. Dr. Asitha Fernando
  31. Dr. W.C.K. Jayawardena
  32. Dr. A.N. Weerasinghe
  33. Dr. SujeewaSenanayake
  34. Dr. B. Kirushanthan
  35. Dr. K.C.P. Perera



Dr Sampath Weerasinghe

Pre intern Coordinator I



Dr Mekhala Fernando

Pre Intern Coordinator II



Dr Shereen Askin

Pre Intern Coordinator III

  • Dr.RuchithPriyananda
  • Dr.GayaniImbulana
  • Dr.PavithraMuthukuda
  •  Mr.R.G. Edussuriya

Evolution of Communication Skills Programme

New Picture (1)
Evolution of Communication Skills Council



2013AprilThe necessity of improving the quality of medical profession was highlighted by the President GMOA in various forums. Discussions were held with the necessary stakeholders to discuss the best solutions.   The necessity of a structured communication skills programme was highlighted at these discussions. 
2013MayGMOA in collaboration with the Health Education Bureau, 50 master trainers were trained by a group of experts in the field of communication 
2013NovemberGMOA in collaboration with NIHS & WHO, 25 master trainers were further trained on communication skills and course materials were developed. There were two 3 day workshop conducted at NIHS. 
2014FebruaryGMOA in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, 500 post intern medical officers were trained in communication skills by the master trainers.  The programme was conducted on 13th& 14th February 2014 at Kularathne hall. A structured online questionnaire was used for the pre workshop needs assessment.  Participants had to fill this at the time of registration to the workshop. The training material were further modified based on this training need. 
2014 MarchTwo day communication skills workshop was conducted at NIHS.  Around 200 medical officers from various parts of the country participated for the workshop. 
2014NovemberIn November 2014, along with the Good Intern Programme, around 1000 pre intern doctors were trained in Communication skills. 
2014December 21Inauguration of the National Council for Communication Skills in Healthcare- Sri Lanka 


 Current Progress

The necessity of improving the quality of medical profession was highlighted by the President GMOA in various forums.  Discussions were held with the necessary stakeholders to discuss the best solutions.


Step 01

Training of medical officers as master trainers in Communication skills.

With the collaboration of Family health Bureau, GMOA organized two workshops and trained 50 medical officers on basic communication skills. Experts in communication, Dr.NeelamaniHewageeganage, Dr.AnomaJayathilaka,  Mr.ThusithaMalalasekara, contributed as resource persons for  the programme.


The master trainers were volunteers who turned up for the training on “Communication and Management Skills” and who intended to be trained furthermore to train other doctors. This method of selection ensured the continuity of the training programme and expansion of the programme to other levels and localities. The training methods included lectures and hands on experience in conducting communication skills training.


Step 02

In November 2014, 25 medical officers were selected to undergo a 3 day workshop on ‘Capacity building of Master Trainers in Management and Communication Skills’ at National Institute of Health Sciences (NIHS),Kalutara with the collaborationof World health Organization. Dr.RuwanFerdinando(Deputy Director, Training at NIHS) and few other experts in the field of communication from NIHS contributed as resource persons for the workshop.

During the programme the trainers were evaluated and course materials were developed.


Step 03

The above mentioned Trainers in communication conducted several workshops in different parts of the island.

The first such training programme on communication and Management skills was conducted in February at Ananda College auditorium for Post intern medical officers. It was a 2 day programme done in collaboration with the Ministry of Health. Around 500 doctors were trained in Communication skills and they were awarded a, Competency Level I in Communication and Management skills, certificate.

A structured online questionnaire was used for the pre workshop needs assessment.  Participants had to fill this at the time of registration to the workshop.

oil lamp 2awarding ceremonycomm skills


symposium chair persons






 Step 04

Next training programme was conducted at NIHS Kalutara in March 2014. Around 200 medical officers from various parts of the island participated for the 2 day programme. This programme was conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.
oil lamplecture by Dr Padeniyaaudience

resource team









Step 05

In November 2014, along with the Good Intern Programme, around 1000 pre intern doctors were trained with Communication skills.

New Picture (1)Day 2 (74)



Step 06

Research articles

Communication and management skills trainers published an article on Communication and Management skills Training Programme 2014 for Doctor Patient Communication in Clinical Practice by European Association for Communication in Health (EACH) booklet.



Communication and Management Skills Training Programme 2014

Ruwan Ferdinando, Anuruddha Padeniya*, Dineshan Ranasinghe, Sameera Senanayake, Buddhika Mahesh, Lasantha D.Jinadasa, Aruna Sandanayake, Sunil de Alwis, Rashan Haniffa,

Dr Naveen Desoysa, Dr Nalin Ariyarathne, Dr Preethi Dissanayake,Dr Mekhala Fernando,

Dr Chammi Udeshika

 Article published in Doctor Patient Communicaiotn in Clinical Practice  By Dr R.M. Mudiyanse


Worldwide it is accepted that effective doctor-patient communication is a central factor in building a therapeutic doctor-patient relationship, which in turn is the heart and art of medicine (1).  The ultimate goal of good doctor-patient communication is to achieve the best outcome and patient satisfaction (2).


Research suggests communication skills do not reliably improve with experience (3). Communication skills training has been found to improve doctor-patient communication (3-5). However, formal training in communication and management skills are not included in current undergraduate or postgraduate medical curricula. In Sri Lanka, there is no current mechanism of training communication skills to the practicing medical doctors on a regular basis.


“Communication and Management Skills Training Programme” was conceived and conducted for the first time in Sri Lanka targeting doctors who were awaiting their post-internship appointments for the year 2014. A training programme aimed at training these doctors who are awaiting their first post intern appointments is a practical and cost effective way to inculcate the skills of communication at an early stage in their careers.


The objective of the communication and management skills training programme was to improve the knowledge and attitudes of post-intern doctors on effective communication and management skills as well as empowering them with essential skills for achieving these.


Communication and Management Skills Training Programme - 2014

The communication and management skills programme was developed in a stepwise manner.

Step 1: A communication council was formed under the patronage of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) with the objective of generating a motivated, trained medical officer with good communication skills and public relations skills.


Step 2: Two groups of master trainers were trained at Health Education Bureau in September 2013. Experts in the fields of communication and management participated as trainers. The master trainers were volunteers who turned up for the training on “Communication and Management Skills” and who intended to be trained furthermore to train other doctors.


Step 3: In November 2013 these trainers were evaluated and course materials were developed. They were further trained in Educational Science. As a part of course material two handbooks (6, 7) were developed with the contribution of the experts in the field of communication in Sri Lanka. 


Step 4: Pre workshop training needs assessment

A structured online questionnaire was used for the pre workshop needs assessment.  Participants had to fill this at the time of registration to the workshop. A total of 670 post intern medical officers participated in the assessment. Two hundred and one (30.0%) admitted that their communication skills were “not good”.  Course materials were amended based on the results of the pre-workshop needs assessment to deliver the most “in-demand” skills at the workshop.


Step 5: Training programme for post intern doctors on communication and management skills was conducted in February 2014 at Kularathena Hall, Ananda College. Around 500 post intern medical officers participated. The two groups of master trainers were the resource persons for the workshop.  The workshop covered main areas such as active listening, breaking bad news, public relations, team work, public communication, counselling, emotional intelligence, doctors and media, administrative aspects, financial regulations etc. Lectures, role plays, video presentations, discussions were adopted as teaching methods.


Step 6: After completion of the workshop the participants’ feedback was evaluated using a structured self-administered questionnaire.  Three hundred and thirty four responded and their responses were recorded using a 5 point likert scale.  Overall rating of the programme was 4.05 and content of the programme was 4.01. However, perceived involvement of the participants was 3.16.


Step 7: This programme was modified and replicated for doctors working in the Kalutara District in March 2014. About 180 doctors participated in this programme. The pre and post evaluations from this programmer are being analysed at present.



Training the entire medical community in Sri Lanka in communication and management skills is an enormous, but necessary and overdue task. At the same time, to ensure that they are trained on a regular basis minimising regression of skills is important. It was noted that the volunteers who opted to become master trainers participated as trainers in both programmes (Step 5 and Step 7) and they have expressed a wish to continue their roles in the future too. It is generally observed that they are developing their expertise in their selected fields with some progressing in post-graduate education. In the future they may contribute to train a second line of trainers to ensure the sustainability of the programme.


The main limitation of the programme was with 500 participants on all 2 days it was difficult to get the trainees actively participated in the programme. Retaining the master trainers within the programme is another challenge. At present, there is no financial incentive for the master trainers to conduct this programme.


This programme will be incorporated into the national level “Good Intern Programme”, conducted by the GMOA and Ministry of Health for pre-intern doctors before commencing their appointment. This will require a group in excess of 1000 to be trained annually, with a possible refresher course before their definitive post-intern appointment.



Conclusions and Recommendations

Employing master trainers may be an effective method for a national programme on training communication and management skills, which is intended to be taken to other localities and levels. The defined skills in communication and management may be adopted by other countries in the region.

We would like to acknowledge our master trainers of communication training programme

Dr Sameera Hewage,Dr Anuruddha Padeniya,Dr Buddhika Mahesh,Dr A. Sandanayake,Dr L.S. Perera,Dr F.R.Niyaz,Dr N. Peiris,Dr. Sidath Wijesekara,Dr N.M. Priyankara,Dr Chaminda Gunathilaka,Dr. N.Warnasuriya,Dr.K.T.Dhammika,Dr K.Muthukumarana,Dr A.Weerasinghe,

Dr Dineshan Ranasinghe, Dr Lasantha Jinadasa,Dr Sarada Kannangara,Dr PrasanthaGamage, Dr Gayani Imbulana,Dr Upul Indunil Perera ,Dr Tharaka Fernando,,DrT.Kahaduwa,Dr. K.Muthukumarana,DrD.M.P.S. Bandara, Dr C.Attapaththu


1.      Ha JF, Longnecker N. Doctor-patient communication: a review. The Ochsner Journal. 2010;10(1):38-43.

2.      Brinkman WB, Geraghty SR, Lanphear BP, Khoury JC, del Rey JAG, DeWitt TG, et al. Effect of multisource feedback on resident communication skills and professionalism: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine. 2007;161(1):44-9.

3.      Fellowes D, Wilkinson S, Moore P. Communication skills training for health care professionals working with cancer patients, their families and/or carers. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2004;(2):CD003751.

4.      Harms C, Young JR, Amsler F, Zettler C, Scheidegger D, Kindler CH. Improving anaesthetists' communication skills. Anaesthesia. 2004;59(2):166-72.

5       Bensing JM, Sluijs EM. Evaluation of an interview training course for general practitioners. Soc Sci Med 1985;20(7):737-44.

6.      Communication and Management Skills Training Programme 2014. First ed. Ferdinando R, Padeniya A, de Alwis S, editors.: Government Medical Officers’ Association; 2014.

7.         Guide to Efficiency Bar Examination for Medical Officers. First ed. Ferdinando R Padeniya A, de Alwis S, editors.: Government Medical Officers’ Association; 2014.


 Building Capacity of Communication Among Medical Professionals 2013

Building Capacity of Communication Among Medical Professionals 2013


 2. Communication and Management Skills for Medical Officers -2014 





3. Communication and Management Skills for Medical Officers -2014  -Revised






   4. Efficiency Bar  guide for Medical officers


The way Forward

The way forward of Communication Skills Council

  • 01. Defining communication skills to suit our contexts including wards, OPDs, clinics, public health settings and other Sri Lankan health care settings.

  • 02. Defining training programmes to suit the healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, paramedical and other healthcare categories.
  • 03. Making curricula for these training programmes .

  • 04. Undertaking training programmes for the target groups.

  • 05. Training master trainers in communication.

  • 06. Sharing experiences with other countries in the South Asian Region and elsewhere in training healthcare professionals.

  • 07. Undertaking research to generate evidence in communication in healthcare in Sri Lankan context.

  • 08. Taking the training programmes to the provincial, district, divisional and grass root levels.

  • 09. Securing foreign and local grants for infrastructure and manpower development.

  • 10. Incorporating teaching communication skills at postgraduate training programmes.


 Kalutara District Workshop- At NIHS Kalutara

resitration oil lamp oil lamp 2 (1) resource team dr padeniya speech (1) lecture by Dr Padeniya Lecture on Communication skills audience


Workshop for Post-intern Medical Officers- At Ananda College Kularathna Hall

attendanece1 innaugaration 2 innaugaration oil lamp 2 symposium chair persons compere team2 Dr Padeniya speech awarding ceremony