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The Effect of Communication Skills Training for Generalist Palliative Care Providers on Patient-Reported Outcomes and Clinician Behaviors: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
Selman LE, Brighton LJ, Hawkins A, McDonald C, O'Brien S, Robinson V, Khan SA, George R, Ramsenthaler C, Higginson IJ, Koffman J
J Pain Symptom Manage. 2017;54(3):404. Epub 2017 Aug 1.
CONTEXT: As most end-of-life care is provided by health care 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 behaviors.
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. Randomized 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: Nineteen of 11,441 articles were eligible, representing 14 trials. Eleven were included in meta-analyses (patients n = 3144, trainees n = 791). Meta-analysis showed no effect on patient outcomes (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 0.10, 95% CI -0.05 to 0.24) and high levels of heterogeneity (chi-square = 21.32, degrees of freedom [df] = 7, P = 0.003; I(2) = 67%). The effect on trainee behaviors 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 to 0.43) with moderate heterogeneity (chi-square = 8.90, df = 5, P = 0.11; I(2) = 44%; chi-square = 5.96, df = 3, P = 0.11; I(2) = 50%, respectively). Two interventions with medium effects on showing empathy in real patient interactions included personalized 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. Personalized feedback on recorded patient interactions may be beneficial.
King's College London, Cicely Saunders Institute, London, United Kingdom; Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom. Electronic address: lucy.selman@bristol.ac.uk.