The implementation and assessment of a comprehensive communication skills training curriculum for oncologists

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Abstract

Objective: The objective of this paper is to report the implementation and assessment of the Comskil Training Curriculum at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Method: Twenty-eight attending physicians and surgeons participated in communication skills training modules as part of a train-the-trainer program. Doctors were video recorded in clinical consultations with patients two times before training and two times after training, resulting in 112 video recordings for analysis. Recordings were coded using the Comskil Coding System.

Results: Communication skills related to two of the six major skill sets, Establishing the Consultation Framework and Checking, increased following training. Limited changes emerged in three skill sets, while one skill set, Shared Decision Making, did not change. Doctors who attended more training modules had higher levels of change. Female participants demonstrated three skills more frequently than males post-training.

Conclusions: The intervention produced significant communication skills uptake in a group of experienced attending clinicians, mediated by the amount of training. Future research should focus on the dose of training necessary to achieve skills uptake and the effect of skills training on patient outcomes. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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