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Palliat Med. 1998 Jan;12(1):13-22.

Nurse-patient communication in palliative care: an evaluation of a communication skills programme.

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Marie Curie Centre Liverpool, UK.


Good communication between nurses and patients is a central aspect of palliative care. However, evaluation of courses designed to improve nurses' communication skills has been inconclusive. Most courses have concentrated on skills training, although communication training programmes which have been integrated into clinical practice over time and have also focused on attitudes and used a range of teaching methods, have been shown to be effective. A study was set up to evaluate whether a communication skills course which would focus on knowledge, attitudes and skills would improve nurses' communication skills. One-hundred-and-ten nurses completed a 26 h training programme over six months and completed precourse and postcourse audiotape recordings of a patient assessment. An overall statistically significant improvement in assessment skills between pretest and post-test mean total scores (P < 0.001) was found, with statistically significant improvements in six of the nine key areas assessed. The nurses reported that although some elements of the programme, such as role play, had been stressful they felt more confident in handling difficult situations. The longer integrated communication skills programme which allows nurses to explore attitudes, raise self-awareness and develop knowledge and skills appears to be effective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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