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Developing a digital communication training tool on information provision in oncology: uncovering learning needs and training preferences.

Stuij, S.M., Labrie, N.H.M., Dulmen, S. van, Kersten, M.J., Christoph, N., Hulsman, R.L., Smets, E. Developing a digital communication training tool on information provision in oncology: uncovering learning needs and training preferences. BMC Medical Education: 2018, 18(220)
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Adequate information-provision forms a crucial component of optimal cancer care. However, information-provision is particularly challenging in an oncology setting. It is therefore imperative to help oncological health care practitioners (HCP) optimise their information-giving skills. New forms of online education, i. e. e-learning, enable safe and time and location independent ways of learning, enhancing access to continuous learning for HCP.

As part of a user-centred approach to developing an e-learning to improve information-giving skills, this study aims to:
1) uncover the learning needs of oncological healthcare providers related to information- provision;
2) explore their training preferences in the context of clinical practice.

Focus groups and interviews were organised with oncological HCP (medical specialists and clinical nurse specialists) addressing participants’ learning needs concerning information- provision and their training preferences with respect to a new digital training tool on this issue. All sessions were audiorecorded and transcribed verbatim. Using an inductive approach, transcripts were independently coded by three researchers and discussed to reach consensus. Main themes were summarised and discussed.

Four focus group sessions (total n = 13) and three interviews were conducted. The first theme concerned the patient outcomes HCP try to achieve with their information. We found HCP to mainly strive to promote patients’ understanding of information. The second theme concerned HCP reported strategies and challenges when trying to inform their patients. These entailed tailoring of information to patient characteristics, structuring of information, and dealing with patients’ emotions. Regarding HCP training preferences, an e-learning should be neatly connected to clinical practice. Moreover, participants desired a digital training to allow for feedback on their own (videotaped) information-giving skills from peers, communication experts, and/or patients; to monitor their progress and to tailored the training to individual learning needs.

An e-learning for improvement of information-giving skills of oncological HCP should be aimed at the transfer of skills to clinical practice, rather than at enhancing knowledge. More over, an e-learning is probably most effective when the facilitates individual learning needs, supports feedback on competence level and improvement, and allows input from significant others (experts, peers, or patients). (aut. ref.)