The Effect of Communication Skills Training for Generalist Palliative Care Providers on Patient-Reported Outcomes and Clinician Behaviors: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Lucy Selman*, Lisa Brighton, Amy Hawkins, Christine McDonald, Suzanne O'Brien, Vicky Robinson, Shaheen Khan, Rob George, Christine Ramsenthaler, Irene Higginson, Jonathan Koffman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
324 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Context: As most end of life care is provided by healthcare providers who are generalists rather than specialists in palliative care, effective communication skills training for generalists is essential.

Objectives: To determine the effect of communication training interventions for generalist palliative care providers on patient-reported outcomes and trainee behaviours.

Methods: Systematic review from searches of 10 databases to December 2015 (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, ERIC, CINAHL, CENTRAL, Web of Science, ICTRP, CORDIS and OpenGrey), plus hand-searching. Randomised controlled trials of training interventions intended to enhance generalists’ communication skills in end of life care were included. Two authors independently assessed eligibility after screening, extracted data, and graded quality. Data were pooled for meta-analysis using a random effects model. PRISMA guidelines were followed.

Results: 19/11,441 papers were eligible, representing 14 trials. Eleven were included in meta-analyses (patients n=3144, trainees n=791). Meta-analysis showed little effect on patient outcomes (SMD=0.10, 95%CI -0.05 to 0.24) and high levels of heterogeneity (Chi2=21.32, df=7, p=0.003; I2=67%). The effect on trainee behaviours in simulated interactions (SMD=0.50, 95%CI 0.19-0.81) was greater than in real patient interactions (SMD=0.21, 95%CI -0.01-0.43); moderate heterogeneity (Chi2=8.90, df=5, p=0.11; I2=44%; Chi2=5.96, df=3, p=0.11; I2=50%, respectively). Two interventions with medium effects on showing empathy in real patient interactions included personalised feedback on recorded interactions.

Conclusions: The effect of communication skills training for generalists on patient-reported outcomes remains unclear. Training can improve clinicians’ ability to show empathy and discuss emotions, at least in simulated consultations. Personalised feedback on recorded patient interactions may be beneficial.

Registration number: CRD42014014777
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-416.e5
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Volume54
Issue number3
Early online date1 Aug 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

Keywords

  • communication
  • Education
  • palliative care
  • review
  • terminal care

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