Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Discussing Serious News: Teaching Communication Skills through Role Play with Bereaved Parents

Hilary Flint, DO, MEd
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Objective: The ability to communicate serious news to patients and families in a caring and compassionate way is a critical skill for physicians. This study explores the impact of a novel communication skills workshop that included bereaved parents in role play, on pediatric residents’ confidence to communicate serious news.

Methods: Following the workshop, pediatric residents were surveyed to assess their perceived efficacy of the educational intervention. The survey included anchored response and open-ended questions to yield qualitative and quantitative results.
Results: After completing the workshop, residents’ confidence leading a care conference, discussing goals, managing emotions, expressing empathy and discussing the dying process all increased significantly. Residents reported that the inclusion of bereaved parents was beneficial since it made the experience more realistic. In addition, they believed their ability to communicate with patients and families had improved.
Conclusions: Including bereaved parents in this communication skills workshop improved the residents’ confidence discussing serious topics and enhanced the reality of the experience.
Practice implications: Communication skills education for residents is critical to improve confidence discussing serious topics with families. Educational activities involving bereaved parents may have added benefit due to the opportunity to hear the parents’ actual experiences creating realistic role play scenarios.