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NephroTalk Helps Docs Prepare for Difficult Discussions

Last Updated: November 09, 2012.

A communication skills workshop for nephrology fellows (NephroTalk), which focuses on delivering bad news and helping patients define care goals, improves the preparedness of nephrology fellows for having difficult discussions with patients, according to a study published online Nov. 8 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

FRIDAY, Nov. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A communication skills workshop for nephrology fellows (NephroTalk), which focuses on delivering bad news and helping patients define care goals, improves the preparedness of nephrology fellows for having difficult discussions with patients, according to a study published online Nov. 8 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Jane O. Schell, M.D., from Duke University in Durham, N.C., and colleagues conducted a four-hour workshop with 22 nephrology fellows (14 percent white; 50 percent male) and used pre- and post-workshop surveys to evaluate the efficacy of the curriculum and measure changes in perceived preparedness on the basis of the training provided in the workshop.

Only six of the fellows reported prior palliative care training. Based on the 86 to 100 percent survey response rate, the researchers found that 36 percent of the respondents had received structured training in discussions for dialysis initiation and 38 percent in discussions for dialysis withdrawal. All respondents felt that, in order to become a great nephrologist, communication skills were important. Based on the five-point Likert scale, there was a significant increase in the mean level of preparedness for all skills, including delivering bad news, expressing empathy, and discussing initiation and withdrawal of dialysis. All of the respondents reported that they would recommend this training to other fellows.

"The results presented highlight the need for structured communication education in nephrology programs," the authors write. "Future work includes confirming perceived preparedness improvements with observable outcomes, disseminating NephroTalk to interested nephrology programs, and encouraging education and awareness among nephrology educators and attendings."

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