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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2010 Jul;19(4):442-57. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2009.01082.x. Epub 2009 Dec 17.

The effect of communication skills training on patient outcomes in cancer care: a systematic review of the literature.

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Scientific Institute for Quality of Healthcare, IQ Healthcare 114, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


The objective of this review was to determine whether communication training for healthcare professionals (HCP), including nurses and medical doctors, in cancer care improves patient outcomes. Eligible studies with a focus on patient outcomes and a controlled or single group pretest-posttest design were identified according to Cochrane Collaboration Guidelines. Seven studies, encompassing 10 papers and involving five randomised controlled trials, were included. Studies involved 411 HCP, including a total of 1677 encounters with adult cancer patients. Forty-nine papers were excluded, primarily because no patient outcomes were reported. Regarding patient satisfaction outcomes, estimated effects in favour of communication training ranged from 0.07 (95% CI: -0.30 to 0.44) for satisfaction with information and support to 0.70 (95% CI: 0.16 to 1.24) for satisfaction with assessment of concerns. No evidence was found for the effectiveness of communication training on patient distress outcomes. We concluded that the current review reveals inconclusive evidence to prove the effectiveness of communication training on patient satisfaction and patient distress. More high-quality studies are needed.

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