Expanding the reach of a cancer clinicians communication curriculum: Case study of a Cancer Council multi-state pilot partnership (#96)
Aims: Effective clinician communication skills are well recognised as beneficial for both cancer patients and clinicians. Experiential learning where learners can practise communication and receive feedback on their skills has been shown to change learners’ behaviour and improve skills. Historically, such programs have been implemented and gone part way to supporting short term communication skills training (CST) needs. Cancer Council Victoria (CCV) has demonstrated the ability to deliver a sustainable, evidence-based communication skills curriculum over the last decade as a core education offering. This presentation will describe the partnership between two Cancer Councils and associated clinicians that has expanded the reach of a cancer communication curriculum, and provided opportunity to develop new evidence-based program features.
Methods: CCV partnered with Cancer Council Western Australia (CCWA) to train clinician-facilitators, and share resources to enable the roll out of a cancer clinician’s communication skills curriculum in WA. The piloted CCWA model featured a lead communications clinician who provided mentoring and support to new clinician-facilitators. The CST curriculum utilised simulated patients and role play and was delivered by health professionals trained by CCV in a 4 hour workshop.
Results: CCV trained 10 cancer clinicians from WA. Between February and June 2015 CST was delivered to 94 health professionals including specialist clinicians, nursing and allied health staff. Evaluations showed agreement or strong agreement (≥97%) to statements measuring increased levels of confidence in communication skills, knowledge about communication with patients, and relevance of skills developed during role play as a key supportive mechanism.
Conclusions: Experiential CST utilising simulated patient role play is by nature resource intensive with steep set-up and recurrent costs. Sustainability of a CST curriculum can be achieved by embedding programs into existing cancer education infrastructures. This curriculum development project also provided the opportunity to consider quality control, mentoring and supervision models across Victoria and Western Australia.