Van Weert, J. C. M., Jansen, J., Spreeuwenberg, P. M. M., Van Dulmen, S., & Bensing, J. M. (2011). Effects of communication skills training and a Question Prompt Sheet to improve communication with older cancer patients: A randomized controlled trial. Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, 80(1), 145-159. DOI:10.1016/j.critrevonc.2010.10.010

A randomized pre- and post-test control group design was conducted in 12 oncology wards to investigate the effectiveness of an intervention, existing of a communication skills training with web-enabled video feedback and a Question Prompt Sheet (QPS), which aimed to improve patient education to older cancer patients (≥65 years). The effects were studied by analyzing questionnaires and video recordings of patient education sessions preceding chemotherapy with 210 different patients.

Patients’ recall of information was the primary outcome of the study. Recall was checked against the actual communication in the video-recordings. Moreover, communication skills were assessed by observing the extent to which nurses implemented 67 communication aspects, categorized in seven dimensions, using the QUOTEchemo. Experimental nurses demonstrated a significant intervention effect on communicating realistic expectations. Within-group improvements were measured in the experimental group for tailored communication, affective communication and interpersonal communication. Although the use of a QPS significantly increased question asking, only limited results were found on older patients’ recall scores. The overall proportion recall of recommendations showed a marginally significant pre-/post-change in proportion recall in favour of the experimental group and there was a significant pre-/post-change in two out of six sub-categories. The results indicate that nurses’ communication skills can be improved by communication skills training. More research is needed to understand the difficult relationship between patient–provider communication and recall of information.