Self-Assessment Scores Improve After Simulation-Based Palliative Care Communication Skill Workshops

Crystal E. Brown, Anthony L. Back, Dee W. Ford, Erin K. Kross, Lois Downey, Sarah Shannon, J. Randall Curtis, Ruth A. Engelberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations


Background: We conducted a randomized trial of a simulation-based multisession workshop to improve palliative care communication skills (Codetalk). Standardized patient assessments demonstrated improved communication skills for trainees receiving the intervention; however, patient and family assessments failed to demonstrate improvement. This article reports findings from trainees’ self-assessments. Aim: To examine whether Codetalk resulted in improved self-assessed communication competence by trainees. Design: Trainees were recruited from the University of Washington and the Medical University of South Carolina. Internal medicine residents, medicine subspecialty fellows, nurse practitioner students, or community-based advanced practice nurses were randomized to Codetalk, a simulation-based workshop, or usual education. The outcome measure was self-assessed competence discussing palliative care needs with patients and was assessed at the start and end of the academic year. We used robust linear regression models to predict self-assessed competency, both as a latent construct and as individual indicators, including randomization status and baseline self-assessed competency. Results: We randomized 472 trainees to the intervention (n = 232) or usual education (n = 240). The intervention was associated with an improvement in trainee’s overall self-assessment of competence in communication skills (P <.001). The intervention was also associated with an improvement in trainee self-assessments of 3 of the 4 skill-specific indicators—expressing empathy, discussing spiritual issues, and eliciting goals of care. Conclusion: Simulation-based communication training was associated with improved self-assessed competency in overall and specific communication skills in this randomized trial. Further research is needed to fully understand the importance and limitations of self-assessed competence in relation to other outcomes of improved communication skill.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • communication skills
  • end-of-life communication
  • palliative care
  • self-assessment
  • self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Brown, C. E., Back, A. L., Ford, D. W., Kross, E. K., Downey, L., Shannon, S., Curtis, J. R., & Engelberg, R. A. (2018). Self-Assessment Scores Improve After Simulation-Based Palliative Care Communication Skill Workshops. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 35(1), 45-51.