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Key studies

Difficult Conversations



Sound communication skills are required for health and social care professionals, whether discussing end of life care (EoLC), deteriorating health, or a new diagnosis for example of cancer or dementia. However, communicating with patients and their families is frequently done poorly, and in EoLC this is one of the most common complaints.

Difficult Conversations multidisciplinary half-day workshops have been developed by the Difficult Conversations social enterprise, and are aimed at providing health and social care professionals the confidence they need to have effective conversations, specifically with those nearing the end of their lives, and their families.  The workshops comprise half-day sessions, aiming to inspire and enable confidence and competence in compassionate conversations, whether giving a diagnosis of a life limiting condition, for example cancer or heart failure, or talking about EoLC issues.

To date, ‘Difficult Conversations’ has trained over 1,600 professionals, and is endorsed by the British General Medical Council and Royal College of General Practitioners South London Faculty. Yet, it has not been formally evaluated.


The Difficult Conversations Study

To examine the workshop and help to advance the field of communication skills training in EoLC, Dr Jonathan Koffman is leading a before and after mixed-methods feasibility study with two primary aims:

  1. To optimise the Difficult Conversations communication skills training intervention
  2. To appraise and test the feasibility of the methods necessary to rigorously evaluate the Difficult Conversations communication skills training intervention in a future trial  


In order to meet these aims, we are conducting:

  • A service evaluation of existing pre-post data and workshop feedback
  • New quantitative data collection regarding workshop participants’ confidence and knowledge, to see how these change between pre-course, post-course, and 3 months later
  • Qualitative interviews with workshop facilitators, staff who have attended the workshop, and some of the patients and families they care for


For more information: 

  • To find out more about this study, please contact Lisa Brighton, the research assistant on this project 



This project is funded by Health Education North West London




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