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Striving to improve communication between physicians and patients with cancer, we seek to hear and learn from their experiences.

Established in 2009, with the support of a five-year $1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health - National Cancer Institute, the ETSU Cancer Stories Project is developing and assessing a series of 5 cancer communication training modules for healthcare providers. The modules are based on peer-reviewed research, expert opinion, and advice obtained through video-recorded interviews with 1) patients with cancer and 2) physicians. Our modules are unique in that they incorporate personal stories from patients and physicians. These stories help to highlight key communication points, while also triggering moments of empathy and insight within the viewer. Our interdisciplinary team includes experts in the fields of medical communication, family medicine, clinical oncology, palliative care, psychology, and storytelling. The project's goal is to improve the communication skills of healthcare professionals who work with patients with cancer.

The 5 communication training module topics are:

  1. Breaking Bad News
  2. Living Through Treatment (Gathering Information, Emotions, and Shared Decision-Making)
  3. Transitions: From Curable to Treatable, From Treatable to End-of-Life Care
  4. Spirituality in Cancer Care
  5. Family Communications

By Spring 2015, training modules will be available free of charge. Our target audience consists of medical students, residents, fellows, and program directors. While designed for physicians, other healthcare professionals (nurses, physician assistants, etc.) would likely find value in these modules. Each module takes about one hour to complete.



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