Be Clear on Cancer: Pharmacy students' views of communicating with cancer patients
Keywords:Communication, Cancer, Pharmacy, Context-Based Learning
Background: The role of the pharmacist is changing. One example of this is the potential for pharmacists in primary care to be involved in the administration and monitoring of cancer patients receiving oral chemotherapy. However, little is known about whether pharmacists feel they have sufficient communication skills training to conduct consultations with cancer patients.
Aims: To ascertain undergraduate pharmacy students’ attitudes towards developing the communication skills required to conduct consultations with cancer patients in pharmacy practice.
Methods: Qualitative and quantitative methods were used for the study. A questionnaire focusing on the communication skills required to care for cancer patients was administered to all four year groups of an undergraduate pharmacy degree at a United Kingdom School of Pharmacy. Key emerging issues were then explored through a focus group, which were analysed using a thematic content analysis.
Results: Several themes emerged from the qualitative data in relation to communicating with cancer patients, including concern about speaking to patients with cancer.
Conclusions: Pharmacy students perceived cancer patients as being a unique patient group creating anxieties over communication. Final year pharmacy students perceive context-based learning as the most effective means of acquiring communication skills required to talk to cancer patients.
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