Background: A randomized study was performed to investigate whether a communication skill (CS) training program can improve nurse's ability to detect the distress of patients who have just been informed of cancer diagnosis.
Methods: Nurses were randomly assigned to the experimental or control group, and those in the former group had undergone CS training program. Nurses in both groups were then requested to support patients informed of their cancer diagnosis. Intervention consisted of one-on-one nurse interviews 3 times (on the day, 1 week, and 1 month after diagnosis). Patient's self-reported distress according to the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and nurse's ratings of patient distress by Visual Analog Scale were assessed 3 times (1 week, 1 month, and 3 months after diagnosis). These two scales were compared between the nurses of the two groups to assess the impact of CS training.
Results: The nurses in the experimental and control groups supported 42 and 47 patients, respectively. The analysis using mixed-effects modeling revealed no significant differences in the nurse's ability to detect patient's distress between the two groups. However, when the nurse's ratings of patient's distress and patient's self-reported distress were compared, these two scores were significantly correlated only with the nurses in the experimental group, suggesting that the nurse's ability to become aware of patient's distress had been improved in that group.
Conclusions: CS training for health professionals is useful in oncology practice to improve nurse's ability to recognize the distress of patients diagnosed with cancer. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.