'A basic understanding'; evaluation of a blended training programme for healthcare providers in hospital-based palliative care to improve communication with patients with limited health literacy

Janneke Noordman*, Ruud Roodbeen, Leonie Gach, Lotte Schulze, Jany Rademakers, Maria van den Muijsenbergh, Gudule Boland, Sandra van Dulmen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: The non-curative setting makes communication and shared decision-making in palliative care extremely demanding. This is even more so for patients with limited health literacy. So far, research in palliative care focusing on shared decision-making with patients with limited health literacy is lacking. Recent research from our team indicates that the assessment of these patients' understanding of their situation and the implementation of shared decision-making in palliative care, needs improvement.

METHODS: To improve communication and decision-making, especially with patients with limited health literacy, we developed and evaluated a blended training programme for healthcare providers. The training programme comprised of an e-learning and a team training. The evaluation was performed by 1. conducting interviews (n = 15) focused on evaluating the whole programme and, 2. coding video-recorded outpatient consultations on the extent to which providers involved patients in decision-making before (n = 19) and after (n = 20) the intervention, using the 5-item OPTION coding instrument.

RESULTS: The interviews showed that healthcare providers valued the skills they had learned during the e-learning and team training. Providers specifically valued the teach-back technique, learned to use simpler wording and felt better able to recognize patients with limited health literacy. Many providers reported a change in communication behaviour as a consequence of the training programme. Suggestions for improvement for both e-learning and training were, amongst others, a follow-up team training course and a new scenarios for the e-learning about discussing palliative care. For both the pre- and the post-measurement, involving patients in decision-making lies between a minimal and a moderate effort; differences were not significant.

CONCLUSIONS: The e-learning and team training were valued positively by the healthcare providers. Adaptations to the e-learning have been made after evaluation. The e-learning has been implemented in several hospitals and medical education. To improve shared decision-making in practice a more sustained effort is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number613
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2022


  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Health Literacy/methods
  • Health Personnel
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Palliative Care/methods
  • Limited health literacy
  • Evaluation
  • Blended training
  • Patients
  • Education
  • Palliative care
  • Healthcare providers
  • Shared decision-making

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