Communication between nurses and simulated patients with cancer: evaluation of a communication training programme

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2001 Sep;5(3):140-50; discussion 151-3. doi: 10.1054/ejon.2001.0139.


In this paper the effect of a communication training programme on the instrumental and affective communication skills employed by ward nurses during the admittance interview with recently diagnosed cancer patients was investigated. The training focused on teaching nurses skills to discuss and handle patient emotions. For this purpose, 46 nurses participated in 92 videotaped admittance interviews with simulated patients. The study had a randomized pre-test-post-test design. Multi-level analysis was used to measure the effects of the training. The results revealed that the trained nurses significantly increased asking open-ended psychosocial questions, which indicates that they were actively exploring patients' feelings. Furthermore, the patients showed a significant increase in affective communication. In conclusion, the results of this study demonstrate that, although limited, training can induce favourable changes in the communication skills of nurses, and can even affect patient communication. Future studies should focus on the further evaluation of educational programmes to enhance communication skills.