gms | German Medical Science

27th German Cancer Congress Berlin 2006

German Cancer Society (Frankfurt/M.)

22. - 26.03.2006, Berlin

Doctor-patient communication – is training effective in enhancing doctors’ skills

Meeting Abstract

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27. Deutscher Krebskongress. Berlin, 22.-26.03.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocIS057

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: March 20, 2006

© 2006 Keller.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Consultation in the cancer setting, in particular with an unfavourable prognosis, requires considerable resources from both patients and doctors. Communication within oncology is a core clinical skill, but one in which few oncologists have received much formal training.

During recent years, various efforts aiming to enhance doctors’ communication skills, thereby adding to improve their psychological wellbeing and satisfaction have been undertaken. Concepts of how to best provide appropriate training to experienced oncologist vary according to teaching techniques and types of intervention. Beyond several diversities, some core elements are found in all training programs that have been developed and published so far: these elements include (1) a learner-oriented approach, based on the needs and areas of interest as defined by doctors themselves (2) using role-play as the central didactic component, preferably with trained actors or standardized patients (3) structured multi-component feed back from participants, trainers and video records.

In order to achieve a substantial gain in terms of knowledge and skills, the minimum time for training required is 16 to 20 hours. Group size should not exceed 8 to 10 participants.

There is substantial evidence from the literature, indicating that improved skills can be achieved not only in the short run but are maintained over an extended period. However, controversial results are reported whether these effects translate to a benefit from the patients’ side, e.g. in terms of increased satisfaction, and reduced distress, thus indicating areas of interest for further research.