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Palliat Support Care. 2011 Dec;9(4):359-65. doi: 10.1017/S147895151100037X.

Responding to patient anger: development and evaluation of an oncology communication skills training module.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10022, USA. bialerp@mskcc.org



The purpose of this study was to develop a communication skills training (CST) module for oncology healthcare professionals on how to more effectively respond to patient anger. We also sought to evaluate the module in terms of participant self-efficacy and satisfaction.


The development of this module was based on a systematic review of the literature and followed the Comskil model previously used for other doctor-patient CST. Using an anonymous 5-point Likert scale, participants rated their pre-post self-efficacy in responding to patient anger as well as their satisfaction with the course. Data were analyzed using a paired sample t test.


During the academic years 2006-2009, 275 oncology healthcare professionals participated in a CST that focused on responding to patient anger. Participants' confidence in responding to patient anger increased significantly (p < 0.001) after attending the workshop. They also agreed or strongly agreed to five out of six items assessing course satisfaction 92-97% of the time.


We have developed a CST module on how to respond to patient anger, which is both effective and useful. Training healthcare professionals to respond more effectively to patient anger may have a positive impact on the patient-physician relationship.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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