Study designs of evaluations included in the review
Studies directed at evaluating communication training for nurses were included. Included studies were of the following designs: randomised with pre-test post-test; non randomised with non equivalent control group; and single group pre-test post-test.
Specific interventions included in the review
Communication training programmes included the following topics: therapeutic behaviours, especially the non-directive skills; interviewing skills; attitudes towards death and dying; assessment skills and psychological depth; relationship building; problem diagnosis; behavioural intervention; therapeutic qualities of day to day conversations with patients; communication skills and attitudes; theory concerning human relationships, normal aging, environment, interaction, human territory, confusion and dementia diseases, and discussion of Erikson theory in relation to demented patients; helping model; emphatic responses; perception of verbal and non verbal feelings; ineffective communication style; and care of oneself. Theoretical and practical strategies were included. Duration of training, where reported, ranged from 6 to 24 hours with training periods ranging from 2 days to 10 weeks. Trainers included those with backgrounds in nursing, psychology, psychiatry, or combinations of these.
Participants included in the review
Nurses only, or nurses along with the following other professionals were included: physicians; social workers; psychologists; nursing and medical students; and dieticians. The experience of participants varied.
Participants worked in the following settings: oncology; psychiatric; psychogeriatric; and general health care.
Outcomes assessed in the review
Training was evaluated using the following outcomes: nurses' communication skills using video or audiotapes with real or simulated patients; nurses' therapeutic skills using the non-directivity scale derived from Neuteboom and the warmth and empathy scale developed by Truax and Carkhuff; nurses self-report using questionnaires such as the Empathy Rating Scale and an adaptation of the therapeutic behaviour questionnaire developed by Cassee; nurses attitudes towards their work using the Semantic Differential Questionnaire; nurses stress levels using the Nursing Stress Scale; and the patient outcomes of depression and anxiety, perception of the quality of communication with nurse and perceptions of change in nurses communication after the training. References to specified scales were provided. Post-tests varied from a few days to 3 months after training. Where second post-tests were undertaken, these varied from 2 to 9 months after the first.
How were decisions on the relevance of primary studies made?
The authors do not state how the papers were selected for the review, or how many of the reviewers performed the selection.