Practicing Communication Skills For Responding to Emotionally Charged Questions

Rushad Patell, Alejandra Gutierrez, Natalie Lee, Kathleen Neuendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess the impact of a 1-hour communication skills workshop highlighting the “ask more and summarize technique” (AMST) to teach residents an effective way to respond to emotionally charged questions. Methods: From December 2015 to January 2017, residents on an inpatient oncology or palliative medicine rotation attended a mandatory 1-hour workshop on AMST involving a short introduction to the technique followed by skills practice. A survey (S1) was administered to the residents during the first session to assess their self-reported attitudes and practices. A follow-up survey (S2) was e-mailed at the end of the rotation to assess the usefulness of AMST. Results: Twenty-one participants completed S1, and 12 participants completed S2. A total of 62% (13/21) reported the workshop was “very useful.” There was a reported increased frequency of “summarizing back” between surveys (P =.01). Addressing fear and anxiety (75%, 9/12) and responding to patients who were angry/upset (67%, 8/12) were the situations where AMST was found to be the most useful. Fifty-four percent of respondents (7/12) felt they could have used AMST more. Conclusion: A 1-hour communication skills workshop targeting residents on an inpatient oncology or palliative rotation increased the use of summary statements in challenging situations. Practice Implications: A short skills practice workshop can be incorporated into a busy clinical curriculum to achieve changes in trainee behaviors and attitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of palliative care
StateAccepted/In press - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s) 2018.


  • communication skills
  • communication skills training
  • resident education


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