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That was a game changer: clinical impact of an emergency department-based palliative care communication skills training workshop


Objective To explore the impact of an adapted goals-of-care communications skills workshop created for ED physicians from the physicians’ perspective.

Methods Semi-structured, one-on-one audio-recorded interviews lasting 30–60 min were conducted with twelve physicians who had completed the training workshop. Interviews explored the experience of undertaking the workshop, its impact on their clinical practice and their ability to teach new skills to other clinicians using learnt techniques. Descriptive content analysis was performed on interview transcripts.

Results Participants reported positive experiences of the workshop. The analysis identified four main themes and ten subthemes dealing with workshop content and its impact on subsequent ED-based clinical practice. There were: 1) value and future improvements for the course; 2) value of the course to practice; 3) value of the course for teaching residents and 4) barriers to application of learning. Specifically recommended components include the use of mnemonics, mechanisms to introduce difficult conversations and a positive feedback environment. Participant-recommended refinements to the workshop included emphasising urgency, replicating the chaotic ED environment and expanding content to include more ED-focused goals-of-care discussions.

Conclusion A short, focused training workshop directed at improving palliative care communication skills among ED clinicians appears to be welcomed and useful.

  • education
  • communications
  • education, methods
  • emergency department
  • qualitative research

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