Discussing Death, Dying, and End-of-Life Goals of Care: A Communication Skills Training Module for Oncology Nurses

Nessa Coyle

Ruth Manna

Megan Shen

Smita C. Banerjee

Stacey Penn

Cassandra Pehrson

Carol A. Krueger

Erin K. Maloney

Talia Zaider

Carma L. Bylund

death, dying, end-of-life care, nurse–patient communication, transitions in goals of care, communication skills, training
CJON 2015, 19(6), 697-702. DOI: 10.1188/15.CJON.697-702

Background: Effective communication, particularly at the end of life, is an essential skill for oncology nurses, but few receive formal training in this area.

Objectives: The aim of this article is to adapt an end-of-life care communication skills training (CST) module, originally developed for oncologists, for oncology nurses and to evaluate participants’ confidence in using the communication skills learned and their satisfaction with the module.

Methods: The adapted end-of-life care module consisted of a 45-minute didactic, exemplary video and 90 minutes of small group interaction and experiential role play with a simulated patient. Using a five-point Likert-type scale, 247 inpatient oncology nurses completed pre-/post-workshop surveys rating their confidence in discussing death, dying, and end-of-life goals of care with patients, as well as overall satisfaction with the module.

Findings: Nurses’ confidence in discussing death, dying, and end-of-life goals of care increased significantly after attending the workshop. Nurse participants indicated satisfaction with the module by agreeing or strongly agreeing to all six items assessing satisfaction 90%–98% of the time. Nurses’ CST in discussing death, dying, and end-of-life care showed feasibility, acceptability, and potential benefit at improving confidence in having end-of-life care discussions.

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