Nurse-led decision coaching by specialized nurses for healthy BRCA1/2 gene mutation carriers - adaptation and pilot testing of a curriculum for nurses: a qualitative study

BMC Nurs. 2022 Feb 10;21(1):42. doi: 10.1186/s12912-022-00810-8.


Background: Women with BRCA1/2 mutations are at high risk to develop breast and ovarian cancer. To support these women to participate in shared decision-making, structured nurse-led decision coaching combined with an evidence-based decision aid may be employed. In preparation of the interprofessional randomized controlled trial to evaluate a decision coaching program to support preventive decisions of healthy female BRCA 1/2 gene mutation carriers (EDCP-BRCA), we adapted and piloted an existing training program for specialized nurses and included elements from an existing physician communication training.

Methods: The training was adapted according to the six-step-approach for medical curriculum development. The educational design is based on experience- and problem-based learning. Subsequently, we conducted a qualitative pilot study. Nurses were recruited from six German centers for familial breast and ovarian cancer. The acceptability and feasibility were assessed by structured class observations, field notes and participants' feedback. Data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. The training was revised according to the results. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the patient intervention was adapted as a virtual coaching and a brief additional training for nurses was added.

Results: The training consists of two modules (2 + 1 day) that teach competences in evidence-based medicine and patient information, (risk) communication and decision coaching. One pilot test was conducted with six nurses of which three were specialized and experienced in patient counselling. A final set of eight main categories was derived from the data: framework conditions; interaction; schedule, transparency of goals, content, methods, materials and practical relevance and feasibility. Overall, the training was feasible and comprehensible. Decision coaching materials were awkward to handle and decision coaching role plays were set too short. Therefore, materials will be sent out in advance and the training was extended.

Conclusions: Specialized nurses are rarely available and nurse-led counselling is not routinely implemented in the centers of familial breast and ovarian cancer. However, training of less qualified nurses seems feasible. Decision coaching in a virtual format seems to be a promising approach. Further research is needed to evaluate its feasibility, acceptability and effectiveness.

Trial registration: The main trial is registered under DRKS-ID: DRKS00015527 .

Keywords: BRCA1/2; Breast care nursing; Curriculum development; Decision making; Decision support techniques; Nursing education; Shared; decision coaching; oncology nursing.