Evaluation of communication training programs in nursing care: a review of the literature

Patient Educ Couns. 2000 Jan;39(1):129-45. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(99)00096-8.


An important aspect of nursing care is communication with patients. Nurses' major communication tasks are not only to inform the patient about his/her disease and treatment, but also to create a therapeutically effective relationship by assessing patients' concerns, showing understanding, empathy, and providing comfort and support. In this review, 14 studies, which focus on the evaluation of the effects of communication training programs for nurses, have been evaluated. The selected studies were screened on several independent, process and outcome variables as described by Francke et al. [8]. In this way not only is the training program taken into account as a variable which may be responsible for nurses' behavioural change and for changes in patient outcomes, but also a range of other variables which can give more nuanced explanations for a training program's degree of effectiveness. On the whole, the studies reviewed showed limited or no effects on nurses' skills, on nurses' behavioural changes in practice, and on patient outcomes. Finally, the majority of the studies had a weak design. The use of experimental research designs should be pursued in future studies in order to eliminate the influence of confounding variables.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence / standards
  • Communication*
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing / organization & administration*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training / organization & administration*
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Research Design