BACKGROUND: Nurses have considerable needs for communication skills training in cancer care because of the general lack of education and training on oncology-specific communication skills in Mainland China. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effectiveness of an integrated communication skills training program, in which an intensive learning session was combined with practice in the clinical unit to create a supportive ward atmosphere where nurses could practice skills in the workplace and obtain support of head nurses. METHODS: To implement the communication skills training for 129 nurses, a quasi-experimental research design with a nonequivalent control group was used. Measures, including basic communication skills, self-efficacy in oncology-specific communication skills, communication outcome expectancies, and self-perceived support for communication, were administered at pretraining evaluation, formative evaluation (1 month after training), and summative evaluation (6 months after training) in the training group. Formative evaluation was not administered in the control group. RESULTS: There was continued significant improvement in the overall basic communication skills, self-efficacy, outcome expectancy beliefs, and perceived support in the training group. No significant improvement was found in the control group over the same period. DISCUSSION: Nurses' communication skills could be developed and consolidated under the integrated communication skills training model. Development of effective interventions to change nurses' negative outcome expectancies in communication with cancer patients is needed in further study.
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