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Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2016 Oct - Nov;33(7-8):480-490. Epub 2016 Dec 6.

The feasibility of implementing a communication skills training course in pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship.

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a Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Albany Medical Center , Albany College of Medicine , Albany , New York , USA.
b Pediatric Hematology/Oncology , Children's Hospital at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine , Bronx , New York , USA.


Communication skills are a competency highlighted by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education; yet, little is known about the frequency with which trainees receive formal training or what programs are willing to invest. We sought to answer this question and designed a program to address identified barriers. We surveyed pediatric fellowship program directors from all disciplines and, separately, pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship program directors to determine current use of formal communication skills training. At our institution, we piloted a standardized patient (SP)-based communication skills training program for pediatric hematology/oncology fellows. Twenty-seven pediatric hematology/oncology program directors and 44 pediatric program directors participated in the survey, of which 56% and 48%, respectively, reported having an established, formal communication skills training course. Multiple barriers to implementation of a communication skills course were identified, most notably time and cost. In the pilot program, 13 pediatric hematology/oncology fellows have participated, and 9 have completed all 3 years of training. Precourse assessment demonstrated fellows had limited comfort in various areas of communication. Following course completion, there was a significant increase in self-reported comfort and/or skill level in such areas of communication, including discussing a new diagnosis (p =.0004), telling a patient they are going to die (p =.005), discussing recurrent disease (p <.001), communicating a poor prognosis (p =.002), or responding to anger (p ≤.001). We have designed a concise communication skills training program, which addresses identified barriers and can feasibly be implemented in pediatric hematology/oncology fellowship.


Communication skills training; delivering bad news; standardized patients

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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