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Editor's Correspondence |

Learned Techniques Do Not Necessarily Translate to Real Change

Anya Kaushik, BM; David D. Pothier, MBChB, MSc, MRCS, DOHNS
Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(20):2261. doi:10.1001/archinte.167.20.2261-a.
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We read with interest the recent work by Back et al1 designing and evaluating the efficacy of Oncotalk, a new residential communication skills workshop. Indeed, discussing bad news remains a challenging area in everyday practice, since few of today's residents and fellows have received any formal communication skills training.2

Although the article by Back et al1 showed a statistically significant increase in the number of bad news skills and transitional skills acquired, it does not necessarily prove that the course improves communication skills in a clinical context. Before the acquisition of a skills' set can be concluded to improve communication skills, the skills themselves need to be shown to be effective at improving the patient experience. It is easy to show that after you introduce new behaviors, people will use them more. This does not translate to effective change in communication interaction.

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