No communication skills training (CST) resources specifically targeting cultural competency in oncology healthcare are currently available. This project aimed to develop an online interactive CST program and assess its feasibility and potential efficacy in improving perceived competence of oncology health professionals (HPs) in communicating with people with cancer from minority backgrounds.
An online CST program providing strategies exemplified in vignettes-based professionally produced videos was developed through an iterative process with input from a large multidisciplinary team. The CST program was tested with medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and oncology nurses. Participants were asked to complete self-report questionnaires at 3 time points-pre-CST program (baseline) and post-CST program, (a) 2 weeks after completion and (b) 3 months later.
Fifty-four participants completed all three questionnaires and 53 of these were oncology nurses. Participants’ evaluations of the programme were overwhelmingly positive. Ninety-six percent found the CST program was helpful in giving them an understanding of issues relating to working with patients from CALD backgrounds, and 83% stated that they have gained new skills in working with these patients. Ninety-one percent stated that they would recommend the program to their colleagues. Comparison of mean scores calculated from baseline (Time period T1) to follow up surveys (Time period T2 and T3) showed that HPs increasingly felt that it was the relative responsibility of HPs and hospitals to adapt to needs of people from CALD backgrounds (Mean scores T1=22.5 (SD:3.7); T2=22.5 (SD 3.2) T3=25.1 (SD:2.5); P<0.001). They perceived the program will bring positive change in their practice and their readiness to communicate in a culturally competent manner (Mean scores T1=26.5 (SD:2.1); T2=27.8 (SD:1.5) T3=28 (SD:1.6); P<0.001).
The program was judged highly acceptable by HPs, and our results indicate that it may be effective in increasing perceived competence.