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‘A basic understanding’; evaluation of a blended training programme for healthcare providers in hospital‑based palliative care to improve communication with patients with limited health literacy.

Noordman, J., Roodbeen, R., Gach, L., Schulze, L., Rademakers, J., Muijsenbergh, M. van den, Boland, G., Dulmen, S. van. ‘A basic understanding’; evaluation of a blended training programme for healthcare providers in hospital‑based palliative care to improve communication with patients with limited health literacy. BMC Medical Education: 2022, 22, Art. nr. 613
Background
The non-curative setting makes communication and shared decision-making in palliative care extremely demanding. This is even more so for patients with limited health literacy. So far, research in palliative care focusing on shared decision-making with patients with limited health literacy is lacking. Recent research from our team indicates that the assessment of these patients’ understanding of their situation and the implementation of shared decision-making in palliative care, needs improvement.

Methods
To improve communication and decision-making, especially with patients with limited health literacy, we developed and evaluated a blended training programme for healthcare providers. The training programme comprised of an e-learning and a team training. The evaluation was performed by 1. conducting interviews (n = 15) focused on evaluating the whole programme and, 2. coding video-recorded outpatient consultations on the extent to which providers involved patients in decision-making before (n = 19) and after (n = 20) the intervention, using the 5-item OPTION coding instrument.

Results
The interviews showed that healthcare providers valued the skills they had learned during the e-learning and team training. Providers specifically valued the teach-back technique, learned to use simpler wording and felt better able to recognize patients with limited health literacy. Many providers reported a change in communication behaviour as a consequence of the training programme. Suggestions for improvement for both e-learning and training were, amongst others, a follow-up team training course and a new scenarios for the e-learning about discussing palliative care. For both the pre- and the post-measurement, involving patients in decision-making lies between a minimal and a moderate effort; differences were not significant.