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Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2008 Feb;12(1):4-13.

Communication skills of health-care professionals working in oncology--can they be improved?

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Psychological Medicine Group, The University of Manchester, Stanley House, The Christie Hospital NHS Trust, Wilmslow Road, Withington, Manchester M20 4BX, UK.


Communication skills' training has been placed high on the agenda by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence guidelines and the National Health Service in the UK. The paper reviews the importance of good communication skills in cancer care for the patient and describes research that has identified ways in which health-care professionals (HCP) can improve their communication with patients. The evidence as to why there is a lack of facilitative skills is reviewed along with what skills are required in order to improve communication with patients. The paper describes evidence of increased facilitative skills post-training, discusses whether there is evidence of transfer of these skills into clinical practice and how this might be best achieved. To conclude, research evidence would support the fact that training in communication skills needs to provide the best possible outcomes for HCP and their patients. Patient concerns, needs and preferences need to be elicited and the impact of concerns identified, so that the HCP can appropriately tailor their information giving, advice, treatment and plan of care.

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