OPEN Research Support

Kerstin Kiis Antonsen
Department of Oncology, University Hospital of Southern Denmark Vejle Hospital

Projekt styring
Projekt status    Open
Data indsamlingsdatoer
Start 23.02.2023  
Slut 30.06.2026  

On-site supportive communication training in doctor-patient communication: A randomized, controlled trial (on-site SCT).

Short summary

Communication quality in medical care influenceses health outcomes as insufficient communication e.g is linked to risk of unnecessary treatment, insufficient pain relief and higher anxiety levels. For the doctors it is associated with stress, lower job satisfaction and emotional burnout. Psychologists have a long tradition working with communication, making observations and providing feedback. Therefore this study investigates if psychologists can help improve the doctors communication skills.


The quality of the communication in medical care has been shown to influence health outcomes, as it e.g. increases the risk of unnecessary treatment, is linked to insufficient pain relief and higher anxiety levels. Therefor considerable effort has been dedicated to interventions that may improve the communication skills of healthcare professionals involved in cancer care. Previous papers have suggested direct feedback on observed situations as an ideal method for improving communication skills, but to the best of our knowledge, no randomized clinical trials have used real patients during on-site training. Studies on communication skills training courses with recorded consultations/role-play have shown significant effect on key communication skills and increased self-efficac. Two studies have demonstrated long-term maintenance of acquired skills. Until now, no effect on burnout has been demonstrated.

Psychologists have a long tradition working communication, creating a reflective learning space, making observations and providing feedback. It is therefore highly relevant to test the effect of on-site (27) SCT on the doctors' communication and on their experienced level of self-efficacy, satisfaction and burn-out.

The overall aim of this project is to test the effect of on-site SCT in cancer care. This includes:

1) Developing and pilot testing the intervention manual for on-site SCT.

2) Investigating the effect of the intervention on the patients' experience of the communication in the medical encounter.

3) Quantitatively investigating the effect of the intervention on the doctors' self-rating of their communication efficacy and their experience of burnout and job-satisfaction.

4) Qualitatively investigating the doctors' experience with participating in the study.

Description of the cohort

Patients in the daily clinic of the participating departments are all potential study participants in the sense that they will be asked to evaluate the doctors' communication in a questionnaire. All questionnaires will be marked with the initials of the specific doctors to enable comparison between the intervention and control group. Questionnaires will be filled out at baseline and after the intervention.

Secondary study participants are the oncologists at the three departments. All oncologists working in the outpatient clinics, and with an employment contract of more than 6 months (the duration of the study) will be invited to enter the study.

Data and biological material

To assess the effect of on-site communication training on patients' evaluation of the oncologists' communication skills, we will use the 15-item Communication Assessment Tool (CAT).

To assess the potential effect on the oncologists we will use three different questionnaires regarding 1) Self-efficacy, 2) Degree of burnout and 3) Job satisfaction.

To get a deeper understanding of the relevance, feasibility and working mechanisms of the intervention qualitative interviews with the doctors randomized to the intervention will be conducted post intervention.

Collaborating researchers and departments

Department of Oncology, Aalborg University Hospital

  • Laurids Østergaard Poulsen, MD, PhD
  • Charlotte Birkmose Rotbøl, MD, PhD, Chief Physician

Department of Clinical Oncology and Palliative Care, Zealand University Hospital

  • Anna Thit Johnsen, Cand.psych, PhD
  • Saskia Eßer-Naumann, MD

Department of Oncology, Vejle Hospital

  • Lars Henrik Jensen, MD, PhD, Chief Physician