Communication Skills Trainings: Subjective Appraisal of Physicians from Five Cancer Centres in North Rhine, Germany

Oncol Res Treat. 2017;40(9):496-501. doi: 10.1159/000479113. Epub 2017 Jul 28.


Background: Physician-patient communication is an essential component of high-quality health care provision for cancer patients. To date, communication skills training programmes have not been systematically implemented in oncology and have low physician participation rates.

Methods: As a part of a needs assessment a written questionnaire was used to explore needs and preferences (structural conditions and content) regarding communication skills training programmes for physicians working in oncology settings in 5 university hospitals in North Rhine, Germany.

Results: 207 physicians took part in the survey. Analyses revealed positive attitudes and high willingness to attend such training programmes, with a preference for short trainings that are compatible with clinical practice. Suggested topics included breaking bad news, conversations about death and dying and dealing with difficult emotions.

Conclusion: Communication skills training approaches should not only pay attention to evidence regarding their efficacy, but also take into consideration physicians' needs and preferences. Further research is required on the subject of barriers to participation in such training programmes.

Keywords: Communication training; Educational needs assessment; Health communication.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cancer Care Facilities*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Communication*
  • Curriculum
  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Plan Implementation
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training*
  • Internship and Residency
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / education*
  • Medicine
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires