To evaluate whether a consultation skills training (CST) program with oncologists and trainees would improve skills in detecting and responding to patient distress, thereby improving their patients’ emotional functioning and reducing psychological distress. Randomized-controlled trial with 29 medical and radiation oncologists from Australia randomized to CST group (n = 15) or usual-care group (n = 14). The CST consisted of a 1.5-day face-to-face workshop incorporating presentation of principles, a DVD modelling ideal behaviour and role-play practice, and four 1.5 h monthly video-conferences. At the CST conclusion, patients of participating doctors were recruited (n = 192 in CST group, n = 183 in usual-care group), completing telephone surveys at baseline, 1 week and 3 months to assess quality of life, anxiety, depression and unmet psychosocial needs. Despite high patient functioning at baseline, anxiety significantly improved at 1-week follow-up in the CST group, compared to the control group. There were no statistically significant differences in emotional functioning, depression or unmet supportive care need between the groups. Consistent trends for greater improvements were observed in intervention compared to control group patients, suggesting the CST program deserves wider evaluation.
Patient Education and Counseling Vol. 77, Issue 3, p. 456-462