‘Difficult Conversations’: evaluation of multiprofessional training

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Evidence-based communication skills training for health and social care professionals is essential to improve the care of seriously ill patients and their families. We aimed to evaluate the self-reported impact of ‘Difficult Conversations’, a multidisciplinary half-day interactive workshop, and gain feedback to inform future development and evaluation.


Service evaluation using questionnaire data collected before and immediately after workshops from February 2015 to August 2016 regarding participant self-assessed confidence, knowledge and skills. Qualitative free-text comments provided feedback about the workshop and were subjected to content analysis.


Of 886 workshop participants, 655 completed baseline questionnaires and 714 postworkshop questionnaires; 550 were matched pairs. Participants were qualified or trainee general practitioners (34%), community nurses and care coordinators (32%), social care professionals (7%), care home staff (6%), advanced practice/specialist nurses (5%), care workers (5%) and allied health professionals (3%). All groups demonstrated significant increases in mean self-assessed confidence (2.46, 95% CI 2.41 to 2.51; to 3.20, 95% CI 3.17 to 3.24; P<0.001), knowledge (2.22, 95% CI 2.17 to 2.27; to 3.18, 95% CI 3.14 to 3.22; P<0.001) and skills (2.37, 95% CI 2.32 to 2.42; to 3.09, 95% CI 3.05 to 3.12; P<0.001). Qualitative findings showed participants valued role play, the communication framework acronym and opportunities for discussion. They commended workshop facilitators’ skills, the safe atmosphere and interprofessional learning. Suggested improvements included more prepared role play and greater coverage of the taught topics.


‘Difficult Conversations’ workshops were associated with improvements in participants’ self-assessed confidence, knowledge, and skills. Our findings identify workshop characteristics that are acceptable to multidisciplinary trainees. Further testing is warranted to determine effectiveness and accurately identify workshop components leading to change.

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