Current concepts of communication skills training in oncology

Recent Results Cancer Res. 2006;168:105-12. doi: 10.1007/3-540-30758-3_10.


Too many patients leave their consultations with insufficient understanding about their diagnosis, prognosis, the need for further diagnostic tests, the management plans, or the therapeutic intent of treatment. This situation is not entirely due to paternalism or a lack of awareness that patients worldwide desire more information, but rather a reflection of the dismal communication skills training that most healthcare professionals receive. There have been many developments aimed at rectifying this situation, but there are still too few publications available demonstrating efficacy. Nevertheless, evidence shows that communication skills can be taught and that if taught well then the impact endures into the clinic. This chapter looks at some of the history of good evidence-based interventions to improve communication and makes a plea for more research-based evidence for improved patient outcomes following training. Unless attention and resources are given to help healthcare professionals in this core clinical skill then we will never be able to help patients and their families take an informed and educated role in their own cancer care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / education*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*