Responding to patient anger: development and evaluation of an oncology communication skills training module

Philip A Bialer, David Kissane, Richard Brown, Tomer Levin, Carma Bylund
Palliative & Supportive Care 2011, 9 (4): 359-65

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to develop a communication skills training (CST) module for oncology healthcare professionals on how to more effectively respond to patient anger. We also sought to evaluate the module in terms of participant self-efficacy and satisfaction.

METHOD: The development of this module was based on a systematic review of the literature and followed the Comskil model previously used for other doctor-patient CST. Using an anonymous 5-point Likert scale, participants rated their pre-post self-efficacy in responding to patient anger as well as their satisfaction with the course. Data were analyzed using a paired sample t test.

RESULTS: During the academic years 2006-2009, 275 oncology healthcare professionals participated in a CST that focused on responding to patient anger. Participants' confidence in responding to patient anger increased significantly (p < 0.001) after attending the workshop. They also agreed or strongly agreed to five out of six items assessing course satisfaction 92-97% of the time.

SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: We have developed a CST module on how to respond to patient anger, which is both effective and useful. Training healthcare professionals to respond more effectively to patient anger may have a positive impact on the patient-physician relationship.

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