Aims: To identify training needs in communication skills and to assess training preferences of staff working in paediatric diabetes services, which will inform the development of a learning programme in behaviour change counselling for healthcare professionals.
Methods: Three hundred and eighty-five staff in 67 UK paediatric diabetes services were sent questionnaires to determine their previous communication skills training, to measure their self-reported view of the importance of and confidence in addressing common clinical problems and to assess the perceived feasibility of training methods to improve skillfulness.
Results: Two hundred and sixty-six questionnaires (69%) were returned from 65 services. Sixteen per cent of doctors, nurses and dietitians reported no previous training in communication skills and 47% had received no training since graduating. Respondents rated psychosocial issues as more important to address than medical issues within consultations (t = 8.93, P < 0.001), but felt less confident addressing such issues (t = 15.85, P < 0.001). One-day workshops and monthly team meetings were the most popular of the training options considered (65% and 77%, respectively). CD ROM and web-based learning were considered feasible for 54% and 56% of respondents, respectively, although lack of time (55%) and privacy (34%) were potential barriers.
Conclusions: Addressing psychosocial issues is an important component of consultations involving young people with diabetes, but healthcare professionals find it easier to address medical issues. This represents a key training need in communication skills for diabetes professionals. The survey will inform the development of a tailored learning programme for health professionals in UK paediatric diabetes clinics.