Can intensive three-day programmes improve nurses' communication skills in cancer care?

Psychooncology. 2003 Dec;12(8):747-59. doi: 10.1002/pon.698.


Effective communication is widely regarded as a crucial component of patient care that can determine patient satisfaction, compliance and recovery. The plethora of communication skills training programmes available to health professionals is also a testament to the importance of this element of care. However a review of studies evaluating the effectiveness of such training programmes concluded that little behavioural change in health professionals' communication skills was evident. This paper reports the findings of a programme offered to cancer/palliative care nurses (n=108) via eight condensed three-day workshops at various UK venues. Behavioural change was assessed through evaluation of audiotaped nursing assessments made pre- and six weeks post-course, scored along nine previously identified key communication areas. Mean overall scores rose by 6 points ( p<0.001) to 20 (out of 27) with statistically significant improvements on eight of the nine individual areas. Improvements in subjective levels of confidence in the areas of communication found difficult pre-course were observed immediately post-course ( p<0.001) and were still evident six weeks later. Similar improvements immediately post-course for teaching communication skills to colleagues ( p<0.001) were further improved six weeks post-course for seven of the eight areas assessed. These results suggest that three-day training courses can lead to clinically relevant behavioural change and improvements in perceived confidence in communication and dissemination of skills.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse-Patient Relations*
  • Oncology Nursing / standards*
  • Palliative Care*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Time Factors