Pilot study of a communication coaching telephone intervention for lung cancer caregivers

Elaine Wittenberg, Betty Ferrell, Marianna Koczywas, Catherine Del Ferraro, Nora H. Ruel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Family caregivers are a key communication source for nurses, and there is a need to provide communication skill building for caregivers. Objective: A pilot study was conducted to determine feasibility and use of a communication coaching telephone intervention aimed at improving caregiver confidence in communication and reducing psychological distress. Methods: A printed communication guide for caregivers and a 1-time communication coaching call delivered by a research nurse were provided to caregivers. Recruitment and attrition, implementation and content of coaching calls, caregiver outcomes, and satisfaction with intervention were analyzed. Results: Twenty caregivers were recruited across 4 cohorts - diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and end of life - with recruitment greater than 70%. Caregiver calls averaged 37 minutes, and most caregivers reported communication challenges with family members. Caregiver action plans revealed a need to develop communication skills to ask for help and share information. Caregivers reported satisfaction with the print guide, and 90% of caregivers followed through with their action plan, with 80% reporting that the action plan worked. Caregiver confidence in communication with healthcare providers was improved, except for caregivers of cancer survivors. Conclusions: Recruitment and attrition rates demonstrate feasibility of the intervention. Caregivers reported that the communication coaching telephone intervention was considered valuable and they were able to implement a communication action plan with others. Implications for Practice: Lessons were learned about intervention content, namely, that nurses can help caregivers learn communication strategies for asking for help, sharing cancer information, and initiating self-care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)506-512
Number of pages7
JournalCancer nursing
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Cancer
  • Coaching
  • Communication
  • Family caregiver
  • Lung cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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