Conducting family meetings in palliative care: themes, techniques, and preliminary evaluation of a communication skills module

Jennifer A Gueguen, Carma L Bylund, Richard F Brown, Tomer T Levin, David W Kissane
Palliative & Supportive Care 2009, 7 (2): 171-9

OBJECTIVE: To develop a communication skills training module for health care professionals about how to conduct a family meeting in palliative care and to evaluate the module in terms of participant self-efficacy and satisfaction.

METHODS: Forty multispecialty health care professionals from the New York metropolitan area attended a communication skills training module at a Comprehensive Cancer Center about how to conduct a family meeting in oncology. The modular content was based on the Comskil model and current literature in the field.

RESULTS: Based on a retrospective pre-post measure, participants reported a significant increase in self-efficacy about their ability to conduct a family meeting. Furthermore, at least 93% of participants expressed their satisfaction with various aspects of the module by agreeing or strongly agreeing with statements on the course evaluation form.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Family meetings play a significant role in the palliative care setting, where family support for planning and continuing care is vital to optimize patient care. Although these meetings can be challenging, this communication skills module is effective in increasing the confidence of participants in conducting a family meeting.

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