Evaluation of a communication skills training to facilitate addressing palliative care related topics in advanced cancer patients: study protocol of a multicenter randomized controlled trial (PALLI-KOM)
Harnischfeger, Nele ; Rath, Hilke M ; Ullrich, Anneke ; Alt-Epping, Bernd ; Letsch, Anne ; Thuss-Patience, Peter ; Bokemeyer, Carsten ; Oechsle, Karin et al.
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17315
Abstract Background Early integration of palliative care concurrently to standard cancer care is associated with several benefits for patients and their caregivers. However, communication barriers on part of the caring physicians often impede a timely referral to palliative care. This study describes the protocol of the evaluation of a communication skills training aiming to strengthen the ability of physicians to address palliative care related topics adequately and early during disease trajectory. Methods We will implement a communication skills training and evaluate it within a prospective, multi-centered, two-armed randomized controlled trial (RCT), which will be conducted at four sites in Germany. Eligible subjects are all physicians treating patients with advanced cancer in their daily routine. An intervention group (IG) receiving a group training will be compared to a wait-list control group (CG) receiving the training after completion of data collection. At pre- and post-measurement points, participants will conduct videotaped conversations with standardized simulated patients (SP). Primary outcome will be the external rating of communication skills and consulting competencies addressing palliative care related topics. Secondary outcomes on core concepts of palliative care, basic knowledge, attitudes, confidence and self-efficacy will be assessed by standardized questionnaires and self-developed items. A further external assessment of the quality of physician-patient-interaction will be conducted by the SP. Longitudinal quantitative data will be analyzed using covariate-adjusted linear mixed-models. Discussion If the communication skills training proves to be effective, it will provide a feasible intervention to promote an earlier communication of palliative care related topics in the care of advanced cancer patients. This would help to further establish early integration of palliative care as it is recommended by national and international guidelines. Trial registration German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00017025 (date of registration: 4 June 2019).