Fukui, S., Ogawa, K., Ohtsuka, M., & Fukui, N. (2008). A randomized study assessing the efficacy of communication skill training on patients' psychologic distress and coping: Nurses' communication with patients just after being diagnosed with cancer. Cancer, 113, 1462–1470.doi: 10.1002/cncr.23710
To investigate whether a communication skill training program for nurses would reduce psychological distress and improve coping among patients newly diagnosed with cancer
The communication skill training (CST) program involved two workshops, one at the start of the study and the other after three months. Workshops lasted six hours and were structured in a six-step approach (SPIKES) involving (1) setting up the interview, (2) assessing the patient’s perception of his or her illness, (3) obtaining a patient invitation to disclose information, (4) giving information and knowledge to the patient, (5) addressing the patient's emotion with empathic responses, and (6) strategy and summary. The program involved a large group meeting on theoretic content followed by small facilitated group work in which nurses worked through various scenarios using the SPIKES steps. Study patients were randomly assigned to be interviewed three times by nurses who attended the CST program (experimental group) or interviewed the same three times by nurses in the control group. Interviews were scheduled on the day of diagnosis, and one week and one month after diagnosis. Study measurements were done at one week after diagnosis (T1), one month after diagnosis (T2), and three months after (T3). Nurses were randomly assigned to either CST or usual care provision.
Patients were undergoing the diagnostic phase of care.
A randomized controlled trial design was used.
There was a significant different in HADS depression and total scores over time associated with group (p = 0.03). These scores declined over time in both groups; however, the decline was greater for the experimental group. There was no group interaction or for anxiety. There were no significant changes in any other HADS data. MAC score changes over time showed mixed results. The only consistent directional change in the experimental group, as compared to the control group, was in the area of fatalism, with decline over time in the experimental group and increase over time in the control group (p = 0.04).
CST appears to have a positive effect on psychological distress and some areas of coping for patients newly diagnosed with cancer.
Study findings support the idea that providing information, support, and empathic responses to patients can positively influence patient coping and emotional distress, and suggest that nurse training in communication skills of this nature can be useful. Further research in this area needs to demonstrate actual differences in communications between nurses and patients as a result of such training. It would be useful to see if such training can be beneficial in various groups of nurses based on differences in nursing education level and experience.