Palliative Care Communication: Outcomes From COMFORT, a Train-the-Trainer Course for Providers

Elaine Wittenberg, PhD; Joy Goldsmith, PhD; Betty Ferrell, PhD, FAAN, CHPN; Haley Buller, MSHSC; Yesenia Mendoza, MA; Sandra L. Ragan, PhD


Background: With increasing support for the integration of palliative care and standard oncology, communication training programs are needed to teach oncology nurses and other providers about palliative care communication.

Objectives: This study reports on the outcomes of COMFORTTM, SM Communication for Oncology Nurses, a train-the-trainer communication course to educate oncology nurses about palliative care communication and improve patient-centered communication and cancer care.

Methods: 355 oncology nurses attended the two-day course. This study used 6- and 12-month follow-up data from nurses who provided feedback on the progress of these goals.

Findings: Nurses taught an additional 9,720 oncology providers, conducted needs assessments of communication processes, and initiated institutionwide palliative care communication training. Barriers to completing outcome goals included a lack of institutional support, specifically an absence of leadership, financial backing, and dedicated time.

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