Background Analysis of filmed data of patient consultations at a UK hospice provides the materials for ‘Real Talk’; a novel and flexible education intervention containing real-life film clips. Communication skills training is more likely to be effective in changing behaviours when it is experiential and interactive, being relevant to trainees’ practice.
Methods Experienced palliative care doctors attended a three-day residential workshop in which they explored the Real Talk intervention in facilitated small groups. Discussions linked to the evidence relating to communication strategies, whilst reflective diaries and action planning provided opportunity for linking learning to their clinical and educator roles.
Results The workshop was attended by 29 experienced palliative care doctors who completed a pre and post questionnaire we adapted from a validated tool. Pre-workshop questions asked for workshop expectations; 19 delegates identified all their expectations had been met, 10 did not indicate an answer. Narratives from the expanded answers noted the workshop had exceeded expectations and the ‘train the trainer’ approach was welcomed. Delegates identified the most effective aspects of learning included experiential small group work relating to the content of the Real Talk film clips, opportunity to critique underpinning evidence of how clinicians communicate in relation to conversations in end of life care and having an opportunity to reflect on learning and application to practice in a safe and stimulating environment.
Conclusions Engagement in, and feedback on, the workshop has provided a foundation on which to build our research in understanding complex communication and skills training. Providing interactive experiential learning, embedded in the emerging evidence base underpinning Real Talk, is crucial for clinicians seeking to explore complex communication skills with patients facing the end of life. Ensuring skilled facilitation, a safe environment and programme flexibility are crucial to the learning process.