Effective communication skills are widely recognized as an important aspect of medical practice. Several tools and curricula for communications training in medicine have been proposed, with increasing attention to the need for an evidence-based curriculum for communication with families of patients in the intensive care unit (ICU).
We developed a curriculum for internal medicine residents rotating through the medical ICU that consisted of a didactic session introducing basic and advanced communication skills, computer-based scenarios exposing participants to commonly encountered dilemmas in simulated family meetings, and experiential learning through the opportunity to identify potential communication challenges prior to facilitating actual family meetings, followed by structured peer debriefing. Seventeen residents participated in the study.
We administered the Communication Skills Attitude Scale to participants before and after participation in the curriculum, as well as a global self-efficacy survey, with some items based on the Common Ground rating instrument, at the end of the academic year. There were no significant changes in either positive or negative attitudes toward learning communication skills. Resident self-perceived efficacy in several content domains improved but did not reach statistical significance.
Our curriculum provided interactive preparatory training and an authentic experience for learners to develop skills in family meeting facilitation. Learners responded favorably to the curriculum. Use of the Family Meeting Behavioral Skills (FMBS) tool helped residents and educators identify and focus on specific skills related to the family meeting. Next steps include gathering and analyzing data from the FMBS tool.

Copyright © 2020 Glod et al.