Background. Training in communication skills for health professionals is important, but there are substantial barriers to individual in-person training for practicing clinicians. We evaluated the feasibility and desirability of on-line training and sought suggestions for future courses. Methods. Based on successful in-person curricula for communication skills and our previous on-line curricula, we created an on-line course consisting of 28 modules (4.75 hours CME credit) about communication skills during pediatric visits that included a mental health concern; each module included a brief case, a multiple choice question, an explanation, and a 1-2 minute video demonstrating key skills. Specific communication skills included: greeting, setting an agenda, discussing diagnosis and treatment, and managing negative interactions. The course was announced by emails in spring, 2007; the course was available on-line for 60 days; we aimed to enroll 50 clinicians. Outcomes were analyzed for those who evaluated the course within 75 days of its initial availability. Results. Overall, 61 clinicians registered, of whom most were nurses (N = 24), physicians (N = 22), or psychologists or social workers (N = 12). Of the 36 (59%) clinicians who evaluated the course, over 85% agreed that all course objectives had been met; over 90% reported greater confidence in greetings and agenda-setting; and over 80% reported greater confidence in discussing diagnosis and treatment and managing negative interactions. Nearly all, 97% would recommend the course to other clinicians and trainees. Suggestions for improvement included a library of additional video vignettes and written materials to accompany the on-line training. Conclusion. On-line training in communication skills for pediatric mental health visits is feasible, desirable and associated with increased confidence in key skills. Positive feedback from clinicians suggests that a comparison of on-line versus in-person training is warranted.
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