84398 - Communication with Patients

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: Single cycle degree programme (LMCU) in Medicine and Surgery (cod. 9210)

Learning outcomes

Demonstrate skills adequate to obtain and give clear and relevant information by adapting verbal communication to the cognitive and emotional status of patients/ caregivers. Recognize the variations in the emotions, mood and stress perceived by patients in different clinical settings. Apply empathy-oriented strategies of interaction to improve compliance to medical care. Develop strategies of decision making to obtain informed consent from patients/caregivers for diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

Course contents


  • The role of an effective communication and relationship on clinical outcomes
  • Mistake and Fallacies in health-care communication
  • Bottom-Up and Top-Down Processes in Perception
  • Pavlovian and Operant Conditioning; Social Learning
  • The role of the psychosocial context around the patient and the therapy on clinical outcomes
  • Placebo and Nocebo responses
  • How emotion affects communication
  • Social Modulation of Pain


  • Goldstein E.B. Cognitive Psychology. Connecting mind, research, and everyday Experience. Third Edition
    2011, 2008 Wadsworth, Cengage Learning
  • Benedetti F. (2013) Placebo and the new physiology of the doctor-patient relationship Physiol Rev 93: 1207–1246
  • Colloca L. Finnis D. (2012). Nocebo effects, patient-clinician communication, and therapeutic outcomes. JAMA, 307: 567-8
  • Blasini, M et al. (2017). Nocebo and Pain: an overview of the psychoneurobiological mechanisms. Pain, e585.

Teaching methods

The Communication with Patients class consist of 2 CFU of 16 hours of lectures supported by slides.

Attendance to learning activities is mandatory; the minimum attendance requirement to be admitted to the final exam is 60% of lessons held in the integrated course "84397 - Communication Tools". Students who fail to meet the minimum attendance requirement will not be admitted to the final exam of the course, and will have to attend relevant classes again during the next academic year.

Excused absences may be authorized upon receipt of proper justifying documentation, in case of illness or serious reasons. Excused absences do not count against a student’s attendance record to determine their minimum attendance requirement.


Assessment methods

Assessment methods for the course COMMUNICATION TOOLS consist of a written exam and, on request, an oral exam. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions and open questions: overall n. 32 multiple-choice questions for Communications with Patients, Communications with Colleagues and Teamwork and Communication with Scientific World plus 3 open questions for Communication with Scientific World. The written exam will last 35 minutes. Those students with a grade above 18 in the written exam can request an oral exam within 3 days after the publication of the results of the written exam. The request for an oral exam has to be forwarded to Prof Gobbini at the following email: mariaida.gobbini@unibo.it. Please put 'Oral exam' in the subject line.

Exam grades will be sent to the student representatives within 7 days after the written exam. Students who don't accept the grade have to email Prof Gobbini from their institutional email address @studio.unibo.it within 3 days after the publication of the grades. Please put 'Grade rejection' in the subject line.

Unless students communicate the grade rejection to Prof Gobbini within the 3 days window, the results of the exam will be officially recorded.

Grades below 18 will not be recorded.

If a student fails the exam (grade below 18) or refuses the grade, they can do the exam again on the first available date.

Teaching tools

Teaching slides will be available on line at Unibo e-learning website https://iol.unibo.it

Office hours

See the website of Maria Ida Gobbini


Good health and well-being

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.