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Responding to patient anger: Development and evaluation of an oncology communication skills training module

  • Philip A. Bialer (a1), David Kissane (a1), Richard Brown (a2), Tomer Levin (a1) and Carma Bylund (a1)...



The purpose of this study was to develop a communication skills training (CST) module for oncology healthcare professionals on how to more effectively respond to patient anger. We also sought to evaluate the module in terms of participant self-efficacy and satisfaction.


The development of this module was based on a systematic review of the literature and followed the Comskil model previously used for other doctor–patient CST. Using an anonymous 5-point Likert scale, participants rated their pre-post self-efficacy in responding to patient anger as well as their satisfaction with the course. Data were analyzed using a paired sample t test.


During the academic years 2006–2009, 275 oncology healthcare professionals participated in a CST that focused on responding to patient anger. Participants' confidence in responding to patient anger increased significantly (p < 0.001) after attending the workshop. They also agreed or strongly agreed to five out of six items assessing course satisfaction 92–97% of the time.

Significance of results:

We have developed a CST module on how to respond to patient anger, which is both effective and useful. Training healthcare professionals to respond more effectively to patient anger may have a positive impact on the patient–physician relationship.


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Philip A. Bialer, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 641 Lexington Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022. E-mail:


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Responding to patient anger: Development and evaluation of an oncology communication skills training module

  • Philip A. Bialer (a1), David Kissane (a1), Richard Brown (a2), Tomer Levin (a1) and Carma Bylund (a1)...


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