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Keywords:

  • distress;
  • detection;
  • communication skills;
  • training;
  • relatives

Abstract

Purpose: This study aimed to assess the impact on physicians' detection of patients' and relatives' distress of six 3-h consolidation workshops (CW) following a 2.5-day communication skills basic training (BT) program and to investigate factors associated with detection of distress.

Methods: Physicians, after BT, were randomized to CW or to a waiting list. Physicians' detection of patients' and relatives' distress was measured through differences between physicians' ratings of patients' and relatives' distress (VAS) and patients' and relatives' self-reported distress (HADS). Communication skills were analysed according to the CRCWEM.

Results: Mixed-effects modelling of physicians' detection of patients' distress showed a positive group by time effect in favour of physicians in the CW group. Detection of patients' distress was associated negatively with patients' distress, positively with physicians' concurrent use of psychological assessment and supportive skills, and negatively with general assessment skills. Mixed-effects modelling of physicians' detection of relatives' distress showed no significant group by time effect. Detection of relatives' distress was associated negatively with relatives' distress and with general assessment skills.

Conclusion: CW following a 2.5-day BT are needed to improve physicians' detection of patients' distress in three-person interviews. Results indicate the need to further improve physicians' detection of relatives' distress. Copyright © 2007 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.