JOURNAL ARTICLE
RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL

Factors that influence cancer patients' and relatives' anxiety following a three-person medical consultation: impact of a communication skills training program for physicians

Aurore Lienard, Isabelle Merckaert, Yves Libert, Nicole Delvaux, Serge Marchal, Jacques Boniver, Anne-Marie Etienne, Jean Klastersky, Christine Reynaert, Pierre Scalliet, Jean-Louis Slachmuylder, Darius Razavi
Psycho-oncology 2008, 17 (5): 488-96
17879970

BACKGROUND: No study has yet assessed the impact of physicians' skills acquisition after a communication skills training program on changes in patients' and relatives' anxiety following a three-person medical consultation. This study aimed at comparing, in a randomized study, the impact, on patients' and relatives' anxiety, of a basic communication skills training program and the same program consolidated by consolidation workshops and at investigating physicians' communication variables associated with patients' and relatives' anxiety.

METHODS: Consultations with a cancer patient and a relative were recorded and analyzed by the Cancer Research Campaign Workshop Evaluation Manual. Patients' and relatives' anxiety were assessed with the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-State.

RESULTS: No statistically significant change over time and between groups was observed. Mixed-effects modeling of changes in patients' and relatives' anxiety showed that decreases in both patients' and relatives' anxiety were linked with patients' and relatives' self-reported distress (p = 0.031 and 0.005), and that increases in both patients' and relatives' anxiety were linked with physicians' breaking bad news (p = 0.028 and 0.005).

CONCLUSION: No impact of the training program was observed. Results indicate the need to further study communication skills which may help reduce patients' and relatives' anxiety especially when breaking bad news.

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