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Communication Training: Needs Among Oncology Nurses Across the Cancer Continuum

Elaine Wittenberg
Joy Goldsmith
Haley Buller
Sandra L. Ragan
Betty Ferrell
CJON 2019, 23(1), 82-91 DOI: 10.1188/19.CJON.82-91

Background: Oncology nurses are responsible for communication-aimed prognosis, patient education about cancer care and treatment, survivorship, and care coordination. Communication difficulties and uncomfortable communication topics put nurses at risk for compassion fatigue.

Objectives: Supporting nurse communication skills requires institutional policies and structures to foster patient-centered communication. This study reports on communication training needs for oncology nurses to inform future development of communication curricula and institutional training.

Methods: A national survey of oncology nurse teams (N = 355) attending one of four communication training courses was used. Surveys were used to evaluate institutions’ current patient-centered communication practices and to ascertain institutional communication training needs.

Findings: Nurses’ role in communicating prognosis remains unclear, and training is needed for discussing survivorship. Curriculum development should be congruent with institutionally defined roles for nurse communication.

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