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Implementing and Evaluating the COMFORT Communication in Palliative Care Curriculum for Oncology Nurses

Cronin, Julie Ann DNP, RN, OCN; Finn, Susan MSN, RN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: April 2017 - Volume 19 - Issue 2 - p 140–146
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000320
Feature Articles

Oncology nurses often feel unprepared or unskilled in communicating with patients, families, and providers around issues of palliative care. Currently, there is a paucity of training programs that educate nurses on how to communicate effectively in this area. The COMFORT communication curriculum was designed to provide education and training to oncology nurses to assist them in their practice of narrative communication in palliative care. This study used a precourse and postcourse survey design to evaluate the impact of the COMFORT curriculum on communication for nurses in palliative care. Participants received a consent form, a demographic tool, and 3 precourse surveys. Twenty oncology nurses attended one 4-hour course, learning several aspects of the COMFORT curriculum. Participants completed 3 postcourse surveys. Survey results were analyzed using statistical analysis software (SPSS) to assess the effects of the COMFORT curriculum. The majority (64%) of precourse-postcourse survey results indicated an increase in mean scores, suggesting an overall improvement in oncology nurses’ attitudes, comfort levels, and perceived self-efficacy regarding conversations related to palliative care. Further research is needed to assess whether the curriculum will impact nononcology nurses faced with palliative care issues. Research is also needed to assess any impact on nurses’ clinical practice.

Julie Ann Cronin, DNP, RN, OCN, is nursing practice specialist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Susan Finn, MSN, RN, is nursing practice specialist, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.

Address correspondence to Julie Ann Cronin, DNP, RN, OCN, Patient Care Services, Massachusetts General Hospital, 55 Fruit St, Boston, MA 02114 (

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2017 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.