Communication training: Needs among oncology nurses across the cancer continuum

Elaine Wittenberg, Joy Goldsmith, Haley Buller, Sandra L. Ragan, Betty Ferrell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Oncology nurses are responsible for communication-aimed prognosis, patient education about cancer care and treatment, survivorship, and care coordination. Communication difficulties and uncomfortable communication topics put nurses at risk for compassion fatigue. OBJECTIVES: Supporting nurse communication skills requires institutional policies and structures to foster patient-centered communication. This study reports on communication training needs for oncology nurses to inform future development of communication curricula and institutional training. METHODS: A national survey of oncology nurse teams (N = 355) attending one of four communication training courses was used. Surveys were used to evaluate institutions’ current patientcentered communication practices and to ascertain institutional communication training needs. FINDINGS: Nurses’ role in communicating prognosis remains unclear, and training is needed for discussing survivorship. Curriculum development should be congruent with institutionally defined roles for nurse communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-91
Number of pages10
JournalClinical journal of oncology nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Communication education/training
  • Nursing
  • Oncology
  • Patient-centered care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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