E STALLWORTHY1, A O’CALLAGHAN1,2, J ADLER3,4, R THOMAS5, F DOSS1
1Auckland District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand, 2The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 3Capital and Coast District Health Board, Wellington, New Zealand, 4University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand, 5Tasmanian Health Services South, Hobart, Australia
Aim: To establish a sustainable, evidence-based, multidisciplinary communication skills course for nephrology clinicians in Australasia.
Background: Healthcare professionals’ communication behaviours can be changed with intensive courses using didactic skills teaching and experiential learning. Improved communication has been linked to less intensive care at the end of life, improved patient satisfaction, and reduced clinician burnout.
Methods: The Auckland and Wellington nephrology departments collaborated with expert communication skills facilitators to develop a three-day workshop for staff. Communication challenges specific to nephrology were identified through a clinician survey. During the course, specific skills and evidence-based frameworks were delivered in brief plenary sessions. Simulated patients were used for skills practice during interactive small group sessions which incorporated self-appraisal, constructive feedback and reflection. Course efficacy was evaluated with pre- and post-course questionnaires for courses 1 to 3 and post-course questionnaires for course 4 and 5.
Results: Five courses involving sixty-five healthcare professionals have run in New Zealand and Australia since 2015. Twenty nephrologists, eight trainee nephrologists, thirty-three nurses, two dialysis physiologists and two social workers have participated. For courses 1 to 3 there was improvement in self assessed ability to discuss prognosis, conflict, end-of-life and to respond to emotion. Post course surveys from courses 4 and 5 are concordant.
Conclusions: To our knowledge this is the first multi-professional communication skills training for nephrology clinicians. There is demand from nephrology healthcare professionals in Australia and New Zealand for effective training in evidence-based communication strategies. Participant feedback indicates that this course successfully met this need.
Dr Elizabeth Stallworthy is a renal physician with an interest in renal supportive care working in Auckland, New Zealand. Dr Stallworthy has a clinical diploma in palliative medicine from the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). She authored the advance care planning section of the 2013 ANZSN renal supportive care guidelines. Dr Stallworthy has been teaching communication skills to post-graduate health care professionals since 2013, initially with the New Zealand Advance Care Planning Cooperative and more recently as part of the project described in this abstract and for the RACP.