Hormone research in paediatrics 2017 07 07() doi 10.1159/000475992
Information sharing in chronic conditions such as disorders of/differences in sex development (DSD) is essential for a comprehensive understanding by parents and patients. We report on a qualitative analysis of communication skills of fellows undergoing training in paediatric endocrinology. Guidelines are created for the assessment of communication between health professionals and individuals with DSD and their parents.
Paediatric endocrinology fellows worldwide were invited to study two interactive online cases (www.espe-elearning.org) and to describe a best practice communication with (i) the parents of a newborn with congenital adrenal hyperplasia and (ii) a young woman with 46,XY gonadal dysgenesis. The replies were analysed regarding completeness, quality, and evidence of empathy. Guidelines for structured assessment of responses were developed by 22 senior paediatric endocrinologists worldwide who assessed 10 selected replies. Consensus of assessors was established and the evaluation guidelines were created.
The replies of the fellows showed considerable variation in completeness, quality of wording, and evidence of empathy. Many relevant aspects of competent clinical communication were not mentioned; 15% (case 1) and 17% (case 2) of the replies were considered poor/insufficient. There was also marked variation between 17 senior experts in the application of the guidelines to assess communication skills. The guidelines were then adjusted to a 3-level assessment with empathy as a separate key item to better reflect the qualitative differences in the replies and for simplicity of use by evaluators.
E-learning can play an important role in assessing communication skills. A practical tool is provided to assess how information is shared with patients with DSD and their families and should be refined by all stakeholders, notably interdisciplinary health professionals and patient representatives.