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Abstract

Objective. To assess satisfaction and learning accomplishments after communication skills training courses for cancer doctors in the Nordic countries.

Method. 155 physicians from the five Nordic countries participated in a communication skills training course. Questionnaires were completed at baseline, at course completion and at follow-up after 2 to 6 years.

Results. 94% of the physicians indicated satisfaction with the course. Physicians who had participated in the whole course (as opposed to those who had participated only in parts of the course) and physicians from Denmark and Sweden were most satisfied with the course. Whereas physicians at baseline most frequently reported a need to learn specific aspects of communication, often with emphasis on psychiatric problems, at follow-up they most typically reported that they had learnt basic communication skills (i.e. to listen and to pose open-ended questions). The majority of the physicians reported at follow-up that they applied the learnt skills to patient-related work, in relation to colleagues and on a personal level.

Conclusion. Communication skills courses for senior clinicians with no previous formal training in this field should emphasise basic communication skills as well as the handling of difficult situations in doctor–patient interaction. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.