Aims: Screening for anxiety/depression occurs inconsistently in Australia and there is a gap in care once identified. The Psycho-oncology Co-operative Research Group (PoCoG) have developed an evidence-based clinical pathway for the identification and management of anxiety/ depression in adult cancer patients to facilitate implementation of routine screening. Ensuring frontline clinical staff have the knowledge and confidence to facilitate patient uptake of support. The aim of this research was to develop an interactive on-line education program aimed at increasing knowledge, improving communication and confidence when communicating about anxiety and depression screening and referral.
Methods: The educational content of the training program was informed by oncology and communication literature. The theoretically derived Comskil model directed the communication components. Adult education learning principles were used to direct learning activities. Clinical scenarios, self-reflection exercises and clinical guidance were incorporated to facilitate clinical relevance. Development involved an iterative research design. Stakeholder feedback (n= 6) on acceptability, relevance and clinical applicability was sought throughout development.
Results: Five key themes, identified through the literature and stakeholder feedback informed module development: (1) understanding anxiety/depression in the cancer context, (2) tailoring the clinical pathway locally, (3) initiating a conversation with a patient about screening, (4) making a referral and (5) dealing with challenging conversations. Stakeholder feedback overall was positive with respect to content and design. Suggestions such as the inclusion of clinical staff testimonials and inclusion of downloadable resources were included in the final design.
Conclusions: Building workforce skills, knowledge and confidence is crucial for the successful implementation of routine screening in busy cancer settings. This interactive on-line training provides strategies and communication skills for front-line staff to guide these important conversations. The training program will be piloted as part of a larger program of work to support and evaluate the implementation of the clinical pathway across NSW.