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Cancer patients and their caregivers often turn to the internet for information and support following a cancer diagnosis. Research shows a need for improvement in doctors' communication with patients about internet information. The purpose of this formative assessment was to evaluate oncology trainees' skills in talking about internet information with cancer patients.
Thirty-nine oncology trainees were evaluated in a baseline standardized patient assessment as part of their participation in the Comskil Training Program. As part of the assessment, standardized patients were instructed to raise the topic of internet information they had read. Transcriptions of the video-recorded assessments were coded for patient statements and trainee responses.
Fifty-six percent of trainees used a probe to get more information before addressing the content of the internet search, while 18% addressed it immediately. Eighteen percent of trainees warned the patient about using the internet, and 8% warned about and also encouraged internet use. Thirteen percent of trainees praised the patient for seeking out information on the internet.
Significance of results:
This formative assessment indicated that the majority of trainees addressed the content of the internet search, while a minority addressed the internet as a tool and praised patients' efforts. Research in this area should examine the effectiveness of educational interventions for trainees to improve discussions about internet information.
Most research examining the impact of patients seeking online health information treats internet information homogenously, rather than recognizing that there are multiple types and sources of available information. The present research was conducted to differentiate among sources and types of internet information that patients search for, intend to discuss with their doctors, and recall discussing with their doctors, and to determine how accurate and hopeful patients rate this information.
We surveyed 70 breast cancer patients recruited from the waiting rooms of breast medical oncology and surgery clinics. The main variables in the study were as follows: (1) the sources and types of online information patients have read, intended to discuss, and actually discussed with their doctors, and (2) how accurately and hopefully they rated this information to be.
Patients read information most frequently from the websites of cancer organizations, and most often about side effects. Patients planned to discuss fewer types of information with their doctors than they had read about. They most often intended to discuss information from cancer organization websites or WebMD, and the material was most often about alternative therapies, side effects, and proven or traditional treatments. Some 76.8% of total participants rated the information they had read as very or somewhat accurate, and 61% rated the information they had read as very or somewhat hopeful.
Significance of Results:
Internet information varies widely by source and type. Differentiating among sources and types of information is essential to explore the ways in which online health information impacts patients' experiences.
To develop a communication skills training module for health care professionals about how to conduct a family meeting in palliative care and to evaluate the module in terms of participant self-efficacy and satisfaction.
Forty multispecialty health care professionals from the New York metropolitan area attended a communication skills training module at a Comprehensive Cancer Center about how to conduct a family meeting in oncology. The modular content was based on the Comskil model and current literature in the field.
Based on a retrospective pre–post measure, participants reported a significant increase in self-efficacy about their ability to conduct a family meeting. Furthermore, at least 93% of participants expressed their satisfaction with various aspects of the module by agreeing or strongly agreeing with statements on the course evaluation form.
Significance of results:
Family meetings play a significant role in the palliative care setting, where family support for planning and continuing care is vital to optimize patient care. Although these meetings can be challenging, this communication skills module is effective in increasing the confidence of participants in conducting a family meeting.
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