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J Cancer Educ. 2011 Dec;26(4):604-11. doi: 10.1007/s13187-011-0226-y.

Developing and implementing an advanced communication training program in oncology at a comprehensive cancer center.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10022, USA.


Cancer patients report significant levels of unmet needs in the realm of communication. Communication skills training programs have been shown to improve clinical communication. However, advanced communication skills training programs in oncology have lacked institutional integration, and thus have not attended to institutional norms and cultures that may counteract explicit communication skills training. We developed and implemented an advanced communication skills training program made up of nine teaching modules for faculty, fellows, and residents. Training included didactic and experiential small group work. Self-efficacy and behavior change were assessed for individual participants. Since 2006, 515 clinicians have participated in this training program. Participants have shown significant gains in self-efficacy regarding communicating with patients in various contexts. Our initial work in this area demonstrates the implementation of such a program at a major cancer center to be feasible, to be acceptable, and to have a significant impact on participants' self-efficacy.

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