Incorporating Shared Decision Making Into Communication With Older Adults With Cancer and Their Caregivers: Development and Evaluation of a Geriatric Shared Decision-Making Communication Skills Training Module

Patient Educ Couns. 2020 May 5;S0738-3991(20)30241-X. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2020.04.032. Online ahead of print.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate a Communication Skills Training (CST) module for health care providers (HCPs) applying a shared decision-making approach to a meeting with an older adult with cancer and his/her family.

Methods: Ninety-nine HCPs from community-based centers, cancer centers, and hospitals in the Northeastern U.S. who worked primarily with older adult patients participated in a CST module entitled Geriatric Shared Decision Making. Participants completed pre- and post-training Standardized Patient Assessments (SPAs) and a survey on their confidence in and intent to utilize skills taught.

Results: Results indicated high HCP satisfaction with the module, with over 95 % of participants reporting high endorsement to all five evaluation items. HCPs' self-efficacy in utilizing communication skills related to geriatric shared decision making significantly increased pre- to post-training. In standardized patient assessments among a subset of providers (n = 30), HCPs demonstrated improvements in three shared decision-making skills: declare agenda, invite agenda, and check preference.

Conclusion: A geriatric shared decision-making CST workshop for HCPs showed feasibility, acceptability, and improvement in self-efficacy as well as skill uptake.

Practice implications: This Geriatric Shared Decision-Making CST module provides an intervention for improving provider-patient-family member communication in the context of cancer care for older adults.

Keywords: Cancer; Communication; Geriatric; Geriatric oncology; Older adult; Shared decision making.