Communication skills training for dialysis decision-making and end-of-life care in nephrology.


Journal Article

Nephrology fellows often face difficult conversations about dialysis initiation or withdrawal but are frequently unprepared for these discussions. Despite evidence that communication skills are teachable, few fellowship programs include such training. A communication skills workshop for nephrology fellows (NephroTalk) focused on delivering bad news and helping patients define care goals, including end-of-life preferences. This 4-hour workshop, held in October and November 2011, included didactics and practice sessions with standardized patients. Participants were nephrology fellows at Duke University and the University of Pittsburgh (n=22). Pre- and post-workshop surveys evaluated efficacy of the curriculum and measured changes in perceived preparedness on the basis on workshop training. Overall, 14% of fellows were white and 50% were male. Less than one-third (6 of 22) reported prior palliative care training. Survey response rate varied between 86% and 100%. Only 36% (8 of 22) and 38% (8 of 21) of respondents had received structured training in discussions for dialysis initiation or withdrawal. Respondents (19 of 19) felt that communication skills were important to being a "great nephrologist." Mean level of preparedness as measured with a five-point Likert scale significantly increased for all skills (range, 0.5-1.14; P<0.01), including delivering bad news, expressing empathy, and discussing dialysis initiation and withdrawal. All respondents (21 of 21) reported they would recommend this training to other fellows. NephroTalk is successful for improving preparedness among nephrology fellows for having difficult conversations about dialysis decision-making and end-of-life care.

Full Text

Cited Authors

  • Schell, JO; Green, JA; Tulsky, JA; Arnold, RM

Published Date

  • April 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 675 - 680

PubMed ID

  • 23143502

Pubmed Central ID

  • 23143502

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1555-905X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1555-9041

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2215/cjn.05220512


  • eng