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Effects of an Intervention Aimed at Improving Nurse-Patient Communication in an Oncology Outpatient Clinic

Rask, Mette Trøllund MSc, RN; Jensen, Mette Lund MSc; Andersen, Jørn MDSci, MD; Zachariae, Robert MDSci, MSc

doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000343365.13871.12
Articles

In an ever more burdened healthcare system, there is an urgent need to investigate whether patients benefit from the resources allocated to nurses' communication skills training in terms of improved patient outcomes. This study aimed to evaluate a standardized two 2-day (33 hours) communication skills training program in nursing cancer care. Twenty-four nurses in an oncology outpatient clinic participated and were randomly assigned to the intervention program or a control group. A total of 413 patients treated in the clinic during 2 recruitment periods (before and after the communication skills training) completed a questionnaire package assessing the nurse-patient relationship, psychological well-being, and cancer-related self-efficacy. Nurse group differences in change scores between time points (baseline, 1 week, and 3 months after the communication skills training) on measures related to communication and work-related stress were all nonsignificant. Time-by-group analyses of patient data showed no training effect on patient perception of nurse empathy and attentiveness, and we found no training effect on patients' anxious/depressed, angry, or positive mood, as well as no effect on cancer-related self-efficacy. The results were unable to support the hypotheses that nurse communication skills training would be associated with improved nurse and patient outcomes.

In an ever more burdened healthcare system, there is an urgent need to investigate whether patients benefit from the resources allocated to nurses' communication skills training in terms of improved patient outcomes. This study aimed to evaluate a standardized two 2-day (33 hours) communication skills training program in nursing cancer care. Twenty-four nurses in an oncology outpatient clinic participated and were randomly assigned to the intervention program or a control group. A total of 413 patients treated in the clinic during 2 recruitment periods (before and after the communication skills training) completed a questionnaire package assessing the nurse-patient relationship, psychological well-being, and cancer-related self-efficacy. Nurse group differences in change scores between time points (baseline, 1 week, and 3 months after the communication skills training) on measures related to communication and work-related stress were all nonsignificant. Time-by-group analyses of patient data showed no training effect on patient perception of nurse empathy and attentiveness, and we found no training effect on patients' anxious/depressed, angry, or positive mood, as well as no effect on cancer-related self-efficacy. The results were unable to support the hypotheses that nurse communication skills training would be associated with improved nurse and patient outcomes.

Authors' Affiliations: Psychooncology Research Unit (Ms Rask and Dr Zachariae), and Department of Oncology (Ms Jensen and Dr Andersen), Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus, Denmark.

This study was supported by the Pharmacy Foundation of 1991, the Tryg Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, Sanofi-Aventis, Andersen Isted Foundation, the Danish Nurses' Organization, and the Danish Cancer Society.

Corresponding author: Mette Trøllund Rask, MSc, RN, Psychooncology Research Unit, Aarhus University Hospital, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, DK-8000 Aarhus C, Denmark (metra@as.aaa.dk).

Accepted for publication May 23, 2008.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.