Objective: To present literature on training patients in the use of effective communication skills.
Methods: Systematic searches were conducted in six databases. References were screened for inclusion through several phases. Extracted data included intervention study design, sample characteristics, content and structure of training programs, outcomes assessed, and findings reported.
Results: A total of 32 unique intervention studies were included. Most targeted primary care or cancer patients and used a randomized controlled study design. Interventions used a variety of training formats and modes of delivering educational material. Reported findings suggest that communication training is an effective approach to increase patients' total level of active participation in healthcare interactions and that some communication behaviors may be more amenable to training (e.g., expressing concerns). Trained patients do not have longer visits and tend to receive more information from their providers. Most studies have found no relationship between communication training and improved health, psychosocial wellbeing, or treatment-related outcomes.
Conclusions: Findings reinforce the importance and potential benefits of patient communication training.
Practice implications: Additional research is warranted to determine the most efficacious training programs with the strongest potential for dissemination.
Keywords: Communication skills; Communication training; Doctor-patient communication; Patient participation.
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