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Communication skills training for healthcare professionals working with people who have cancer

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, July 2018
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  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (91st percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (72nd percentile)

Mentioned by

43 tweeters
1 Facebook page


34 Dimensions

Readers on

236 Mendeley
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Communication skills training for healthcare professionals working with people who have cancer
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, July 2018
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd003751.pub4
Pubmed ID

Philippa M Moore, Solange Rivera, Gonzalo A Bravo-Soto, Camila Olivares, Theresa A Lawrie


This is the third update of a review that was originally published in the Cochrane Library in 2002, Issue 2. People with cancer, their families and carers have a high prevalence of psychological stress, which may be minimised by effective communication and support from their attending healthcare professionals (HCPs). Research suggests communication skills do not reliably improve with experience, therefore, considerable effort is dedicated to courses that may improve communication skills for HCPs involved in cancer care. A variety of communication skills training (CST) courses are in practice. We conducted this review to determine whether CST works and which types of CST, if any, are the most effective. To assess whether communication skills training is effective in changing behaviour of HCPs working in cancer care and in improving HCP well-being, patient health status and satisfaction. For this update, we searched the following electronic databases: Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2018, Issue 4), MEDLINE via Ovid, Embase via Ovid, PsycInfo and CINAHL up to May 2018. In addition, we searched the US National Library of Medicine Clinical Trial Registry and handsearched the reference lists of relevant articles and conference proceedings for additional studies. The original review was a narrative review that included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled before-and-after studies. In updated versions, we limited our criteria to RCTs evaluating CST compared with no CST or other CST in HCPs working in cancer care. Primary outcomes were changes in HCP communication skills measured in interactions with real or simulated people with cancer or both, using objective scales. We excluded studies whose focus was communication skills in encounters related to informed consent for research. Two review authors independently assessed trials and extracted data to a pre-designed data collection form. We pooled data using the random-effects method. For continuous data, we used standardised mean differences (SMDs). We included 17 RCTs conducted mainly in outpatient settings. Eleven trials compared CST with no CST intervention; three trials compared the effect of a follow-up CST intervention after initial CST training; two trials compared the effect of CST and patient coaching; and one trial compared two types of CST. The types of CST courses evaluated in these trials were diverse. Study participants included oncologists, residents, other doctors, nurses and a mixed team of HCPs. Overall, 1240 HCPs participated (612 doctors including 151 residents, 532 nurses, and 96 mixed HCPs).Ten trials contributed data to the meta-analyses. HCPs in the intervention groups were more likely to use open questions in the post-intervention interviews than the control group (SMD 0.25, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.48; P = 0.03, I² = 62%; 5 studies, 796 participant interviews; very low-certainty evidence); more likely to show empathy towards their patients (SMD 0.18, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.32; P = 0.008, I² = 0%; 6 studies, 844 participant interviews; moderate-certainty evidence), and less likely to give facts only (SMD -0.26, 95% CI -0.51 to -0.01; P = 0.05, I² = 68%; 5 studies, 780 participant interviews; low-certainty evidence). Evidence suggesting no difference between CST and no CST on eliciting patient concerns and providing appropriate information was of a moderate-certainty. There was no evidence of differences in the other HCP communication skills, including clarifying and/or summarising information, and negotiation. Doctors and nurses did not perform differently for any HCP outcomes.There were no differences between the groups with regard to HCP 'burnout' (low-certainty evidence) nor with regard to patient satisfaction or patient perception of the HCPs communication skills (very low-certainty evidence). Out of the 17 included RCTs 15 were considered to be at a low risk of overall bias. Various CST courses appear to be effective in improving HCP communication skills related to supportive skills and to help HCPs to be less likely to give facts only without individualising their responses to the patient's emotions or offering support. We were unable to determine whether the effects of CST are sustained over time, whether consolidation sessions are necessary, and which types of CST programs are most likely to work. We found no evidence to support a beneficial effect of CST on HCP 'burnout', the mental or physical health and satisfaction of people with cancer.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 43 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 236 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Spain 1 <1%
Unknown 235 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 36 15%
Student > Bachelor 34 14%
Researcher 22 9%
Student > Ph. D. Student 21 9%
Student > Doctoral Student 15 6%
Other 45 19%
Unknown 63 27%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 50 21%
Nursing and Health Professions 44 19%
Psychology 30 13%
Social Sciences 15 6%
Unspecified 4 2%
Other 22 9%
Unknown 71 30%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 29. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 05 April 2019.
All research outputs
of 14,090,368 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 10,845 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 274,225 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
of 180 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 14,090,368 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 95th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 10,845 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 21.6. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 274,225 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 91% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 180 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 72% of its contemporaries.