Child- and family-specific communication skills trainings for healthcare professionals caring for families with parental cancer: A systematic review

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INTRODUCTION: As part of high-quality cancer care, healthcare professionals (HCPs) play a significant role in identifying and addressing specific needs of cancer patients parenting minor children. However, HCPs experience various barriers to adequately support parents with cancer. This systematic review explores current CSTs incorporating child- and family- specific modules for HCPs in oncology. Moreover, outcome measures and effectiveness of trainings are systematically investigated.

METHODS: The systematic review was registered within PROSPERO (registration code: CRD42020139783). Systematic searches were performed in four databases (PubMed, Cinahl, PsycInfo, Web of Science) in 12/2020, including an update in 12/2021 and 08/2022. Quantitative, primary studies fulfilling the pre-defined inclusion criteria were included. Due to the expected heterogeneity a meta-analysis was not conducted. Study selection and quality assessment were conducted by two independent researchers, data extraction by one. Study quality was assessed using an adapted version of the National Institutes of Health quality assessment tool for pre-post studies without control group.

RESULTS: Nine studies were included in this review following an experimental pre-post design only. Two CSTs were specifically designed to improve communication with cancer patients parenting minor children, the remaining seven incorporated a brief family module only. Seven programs were face-to-face trainings, one an e-learning and one a webinar. Eight studies found at least one statistically significant improvement in communication after training. However, quality of most studies was fair.

CONCLUSION: This is the first review exploring specific CSTs for HCPs caring for cancer patients parenting minor children. As only two CSTs focused on parental cancer, evidence on the effectiveness of such CSTs is limited. Existing CSTs should be evaluated properly and include details on content of family modules. Further studies including and evaluating specific CSTs focusing on parental cancer are needed in order to strengthen HCPs' competencies to meet specific needs of patients parenting minor children.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0277225
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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Copyright: © 2022 Frerichs et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

PubMed 36350839