Oral Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2017

Evaluation of an online communication skills training programme for oncology health care professionals working with culturally and linguistically diverse patients (#16)

Bettina Meiser 1 , Rajneesh Kaur 1 , Elvira Zilliacus 1 , Tim Wong 2 , Lisa Woodland 3 , Sarah Tomkins 4 , David Kissane 5 , Afaf Girgis 6 , Phyllis Butow 7 , Sandra Hale 8 , Astrid Perry 9 , Sanchia K Aranda 10 , Tim Shaw 11 , Helen Tebble 12 , David Goldstein 13
  1. Psychosocial Research Group, Prince of Wales Clinical School, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. School of Social Sciences, UNSW , Sydney, Australia
  3. South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  4. Cancer Insititute, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  5. Department of Psychiatry, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  6. Centre for Oncology Education and Research Translation, Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, South Western Sydney Clinical School, UNSW, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  7. Psycho-Oncology Co-Operative Research Group, Centre for Medical Psychology and Evidence-Based Decision-Making, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  8. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW , Sydney, NSW, Australia
  9. Multicultural Health Service, South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  10. Cancer Council, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  11. Charles Perkins Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  12. School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures & Linguistics, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
  13. Hereditary Cancer Clinic, Prince of Wales Hospital, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, NSW, Australia


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.