The benefits for both doctors and patients of effective communication skills in medical care have been widely documented1,2 and are generally accepted. There has been less research on this topic with respect to dental care. However, based on available studies and the reported success of teaching communication skills at the undergraduate level in dental schools, a workshop was developed to improve the communication skills of dentists working in government clinics in Hong Kong. The patient-centred interview as used in medical care formed the basis for teaching communication skills in this workshop.2,3 Objective and subjective measures of dentists' knowledge, attitude and skills related to the patient-centred interview were obtained before, immediately and eight weeks after the workshop. Objective measures showed immediate gains in knowledge. However, attitudes declined during the period of study. Subjective evaluations revealed improved communication skills eight weeks after the workshop and that the patient-centred interview was considered relevant to the practices of these dentists. Participants made specific reference to the concept of empathy as a means of promoting more effective communication between dentists and patients.