Poster Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2017

Tears, tantrums and training - do we have the time? Communicating Actively Responding Empathically (CARE): Comparison of communication training workshops for health professionals working in cancer care (#246)

Jodie Nixon 1 2 , Lyndal Gray 1 , Bena Cartmill 2 3 , Anne Bernard 2 , Jessica Scaife 4 , Jane Turner 5
  1. Occupational Therapy Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Woollongabba, QLD, Australia
  2. School of Health and Rehabilitation, The University of Queensland, Brisbane
  3. Speech Pathology Department, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane
  4. Cancer Services, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane
  5. Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane


Currently no evidence exists to indicate what type or length of communication training workshop is the most effective for staff working in cancer care. This exploratory study evaluates a communication training workshop-CARE One day, and a modified two hour workshop- CARE Express, to determine each workshop’s effectiveness in improving health professionals communication skills and sustaining changes in practice. 


Multidisciplinary health professionals were recruited. Partial randomisation allocated: control (n=50); CARE One day (n=49); and CARE Express (n=48). Measures of workshop effectiveness included perceived skills and confidence, physician’s belief scale- a measure of health providers’ psychosocial beliefs, and responses to a clinical vignette at baseline (T1) and three-month post training (T3).


The control group showed no changes in confidence in identifying or responding to anger, distress, anxiety or depression between T1 and T3. The CARE One day and CARE Express group showed a significant improvement from T1 to T3 in recognising and responding to all emotions (p<.001).

There was no significant difference in the physician’s belief scale between the 3 groups at baseline. A significant decrease in the score from baseline to T3 was observed for both CARE One day (p<.001) and CARE Express (p<.001), indicating an increase in psychosocial focus. No significant difference was observed in the control group.

In response to the clinical vignette, the control group demonstrated no changes in acknowledging responses from T1 to T3. The CARE one day and the CARE Express showed a significant improvement in acknowledging responses from T1 to T3 (p<.001). 


CARE and CARE Express are communication training packages that increase psychosocial focus, sustain improvements in confidence, and the ability to acknowledge emotions. In the busy health care environments with multiple training demands the CARE Express communication workshop delivers a sustainable package that has benefits comparable with the one day.