Do pediatric hematology/oncology (PHO) fellows receive communication training?

Wilson File, Carma L. Bylund, Jennifer Kesselheim, David Leonard, Patrick Leavey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: The Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has established communication as a core competency for physicians in training. However, data suggest that most pediatric residents perceive inadequate training in the delivery of bad news and the majority of former trainees in pediatric oncology received no formal training in the delivery of bad news during fellowship. The study examines communication training in ACGME accredited US pediatric hematology-oncology (PHO) fellowship programs. Methods: An online survey was distributed to 315 PHO fellows in training via the American Society of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology (ASPHO) fellow email registry. Each fellow received an initial request to participate and 2 reminders, while participation was encouraged through a random incentive drawing. Results: One hundred and ten fellows (35%) responded. Eighty percent of respondents perceived communication training to be important to fellow education, however only 32% reported receiving communication training (other than direct observation). The most common reported teaching method of fellowship communication training was formal lecture (42%). Twenty-three percent of respondents reported neither communication training nor frequent feedback on their communication skills from faculty observation. This same group was the least satisfied with their programs' approach to teaching communication (P<0.001). Conclusions: There is limited communication training in PHO fellowships despite ACGME requirements and fellows' interest in this training. Didactic learning remains the most frequently described training method, yet educational theory identifies the limitation of didactic lectures alone. Communication training employing novel teaching methods and emphasizing communication challenges identified by fellows should be developed and evaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-506
Number of pages5
JournalPediatric Blood and Cancer
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Communication
  • Communication training
  • Fellow training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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