Communication Training in Adult and Pediatric Critical Care Medicine. A Systematic Review

ATS Sch. 2020 Jul 14;1(3):316-330. doi: 10.34197/ats-scholar.2019-0017RE.


Background: Interpersonal and communication skills are essential for physicians practicing in critical care settings. Accordingly, demonstration of these skills has been a core competency of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education since 2014. However, current practices regarding communication skills training in adult and pediatric critical care fellowships are not well described. Objective: To describe the current state of communication curricula and training methods in adult and pediatric critical care training programs as demonstrated by the published literature. Methods: We performed a systematic review of the published literature using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses checklist. Three authors reviewed a comprehensive set of databases and independently selected articles on the basis of a predefined set of inclusion and exclusion criteria. Data were independently extracted from the selected articles. Results: The 23 publications meeting inclusion criteria fell into the following study classifications: intervention (n = 15), cross-sectional survey (n = 5), and instrument validation (n = 3). Most interventional studies assessed short-term and self-reported outcomes (e.g., learner attitudes and perspectives) only. Fifteen of 22 publications represented pediatric subspecialty programs. Conclusion: Opportunities exist to evaluate the influence of communication training programs on important outcomes, including measured learner behavior and patient and family outcomes, and the durability of skill retention.

Keywords: communication; critical care; fellowship; medical education; training.