Objective: To evaluate the impact of a communication skills course for nurses on how to handle difficult communication situations in their daily work. Methods: A 7-h course was developed using a construct of "Awareness, Feelings, Listen, Solve" (AFLS). A pedagogy of experiential, learner-centered learning was adopted. The course evaluation used a randomized controlled design with pre- and post-measures of self-efficacy and performance. Results: Forty-one nurses volunteered and thirty-three nurses completed all assigned parts of the study. On self-assessment, there was significant improvement for self-efficacy (F = 24.43, p< 0.001), but not for emotional awareness. On performance, there was no significant improvement between intervention and control groups (F = 3.46, p = 0.073). Conclusion: A short course for nurses on handling difficult communication situations achieved significant improvements in self-efficacy but not in performance. Practice implications: Teaching communication skills in community-based settings is important for the safety and effectiveness of patient care. Sponsoring organizations should weigh trade-offs between feasibility and achievement of measurable improvements in performance. One possible approach is to focus on specific communication skills rather than a full suite of skills. © 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
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