Communication skills training in oncology: a position paper based on a consensus meeting among European experts in 2009

Ann Oncol. 2010 Feb;21(2):204-207. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdp564. Epub 2009 Dec 21.


Background: Communication in cancer care has become a major topic of interest. Since there is evidence that ineffective communication affects both patients and oncology clinicians (physicians and nurses), so-called communication skills trainings (CSTs) have been developed over the last decade. While these trainings have been demonstrated to be effective, there is an important heterogeneity with regard to implementation and with regard to evidence of different aspects of CST.

Methods: In order to review and discuss the scientific literature on CST in oncology and to formulate recommendations, the Swiss Cancer League has organised a consensus meeting with European opinion leaders and experts in the field of CST, as well as oncology clinicians, representatives of oncology societies and patient organisations. On the basis of a systematic review and a meta-analysis, recommendations have been developed and agreed upon.

Results: Recommendations address (i) the setting, objectives and participants of CST, (ii) its content and pedagogic tools, (iii) organisational aspects, (iv) outcome and (v) future directions and research.

Conclusion: This consensus meeting, on the basis of European expert opinions and a systematic review and meta-analysis, defines key elements for the current provision and future development and evaluation of CST in oncology.

Publication types

  • Consensus Development Conference
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence*
  • Communication*
  • Consensus
  • Education, Medical, Continuing* / methods
  • Education, Medical, Continuing* / organization & administration
  • Europe
  • Health Planning Guidelines
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology / education*
  • Medical Oncology / methods
  • Medical Oncology / organization & administration
  • Physician-Patient Relations*