clinicians' communication behaviour; communication skills training; end-of-life care; end-of-life communication
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While clinicians face difficulties when addressing end-of-life (EoL) issues, specific communication skills training (CST) focusing on EoL communication is lacking. The project aims to develop and implement a communication skills training in end-of-life care (EoL-CST) based on training needs of clinicians (physicians and nurses) caring for patients in the last stage of their life. We hypothesize that defined EoL issues (e.g. questions about death and dying or advance directives) as well as related psychological challenges for the clinician (e.g. remaining empathic without identifying with the patient or feeling of guilt and failure) and specific skills (e.g. telling the truth and maintaining hope or assessing the patient’s adjustment to existential threat) will be key elements of the planned EoL-CST.CST developed over the last decade in cancer care shows convincingly that communication attitudes and behavior of health professionals can be trained and improved, which consecutively has a positive impact on the patients, their significant others and the health professionals themselves. The planned EoL-CST will benefit from the experience of oncology CST and recommendations for the development of CST in cancer and end-of-life care.Clinicians’ training needs will be assessed by means of focus groups (with physicians and nurses working in internal medicine, oncology, intensive and palliative care) and validated by large-scale questionnaires. Based on these results, a learner-centered, practice-oriented and skills-focused EoL-CST will be developed, taking into account different psychological and pedagogic approaches. The EoL-CST will be piloted and evaluated (participants’ satisfaction and pre-post intervention impact) prior to implementation.