A Global Measure of Nursing Student Communication: The Interpersonal Communication Assessment Scale (ICAS)

Thursday, 27 July 2017: 4:30 PM

Marilyn Klakovich, DNSc, RN, NEA-BC
School of Nursing, University of Phoenix, Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, CA, USA

The purpose of this presentation is to describe the Interpersonal Communication Assessment Scale, its usefulness in nursing schools in the USA, and efforts to increase the global usefulness of the scale through translation and adaptation for use in other languages and cultures.

In the late 1990’s, despite the centrality of interpersonal communication in nursing, there were few psychometrically sound instruments to measure the communication competencies of undergraduate and graduate nursing students. A colleague and I set out to develop and test the Interpersonal Communication Assessment Scale (ICAS), which was designed to assess the communication competencies of students in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.

We used responses from undergraduate and graduate clinical faculty from 246 American Association of Colleges of Nursing member schools for the psychometric testing of the ICAS.The three subscales of the ICAS represent important dimensions of interpersonal communication and include advocacy, therapeutic use of self, and validation. Advocacy is clearly conveying diagnostic and other relevant information in a way that supports patient/family wishes and decisions. Therapeutic use of self is defined as demonstrating interpersonal behaviors that assist clients in achieving healthy emotional and behavioral outcomes by being genuine, empathetic, and respectful to the client). Validation consists of listening carefully and verifying that the intent of messages is accurately interpreted (Klakovich & dela Cruz, 2006). In a systematic review of objective measures used to assess pre-registration students’ clinical competence, the ICAS was one of 6 instruments out of 16 judged as having high quality with low risk of bias (Cant, McKenna, & Cooper,2013). It is listed by the Health Foundation (2014) in their “Helping measure person-centred care” publication as a professional measure of a behavior that supports person-centered care. And Oermann (2013) lists the ICAS as a level 2 affective measure as part of the Kirkpatrick model.

The ICAS has been used to track the communication development of nursing students in both undergraduate and graduate programs in the United States. It has also been adapted for work with Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers. Since all of the initial testing was completed with United States students and faculty, careful translation, adaptation, and further testing were needed before use in other countries. To date, it has been translated into Chinese, Italian, Portuguese (Lopes, Azeredo, & Rodrigues, 2013), Tagalog, and Viet Namese.

Educators and researchers seeking permission to translate and adapt the ICAS are guided to use the process described by dela Cruz, Padilla, and Agustin. This process includes translation and back-translation. The original authors of the ICAS served as consultants to ensure the interpretation of each item was preserved. Items were adapted as needed to be sensitive to cultural issues. Judges of the translation of the ICAS into Portuguese concluded that it is suitable for use with Portuguese nursing students (Lopes, Azeredo, & Rodrigues, 2013).

As global boundaries continue to blur, it is important that nurse educators and researchers identify instruments that can be used in a variety of countries as teaching tools and evaluation measures to ensure we are preparing a global nursing workforce for the future.