Attitudes and Perception of the REFLECT Communication Curriculum for Clinical Oncology Graduate Medical Education

Brady S. Laughlin, Natalie Langley, Samir H. Patel, Katherine Kough, Brenda Ernst, Jonathan B. Ashman, William G. Rule, Tamara Z. Vern-Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Communication and interpersonal skills are essential components of oncology patient care. The REFLECT (Respect, Empathy, Facilitate Effective Communication, Listen, Elicit Information, Compassion, and Teach Others) curriculum is a novel framework to improve and refine physician/patient interactions for oncology graduate medical trainees. We seek to evaluate the attitudes and perceptions of the REFLECT communication curriculum among oncology trainees. Seven-question and 8-question Likert scale surveys (1 = not beneficial and 5 = beneficial) were distributed to resident/fellow participants and faculty mentors, respectively. Questions asked trainees and faculty about their perceptions of improvement in communication, handling of stressful situations, the value of the curriculum, and overall impression of the curriculum. Descriptive statistics determined the survey’s baseline characteristics and response rates. Kruskal–Wallis rank sum tests were used to compare the distribution of continuous variables. Thirteen resident/fellow participants completed the participant survey. Six (43.6%) Radiation Oncology trainees and 7 (58.3%) Hematology/Oncology fellows completed the trainee survey. Eight (88.9%) Radiation Oncologists and 1 (11.1%) Medical Oncologist completed the observer survey. Faculty and trainees generally felt that the curriculum increased communication skills. Faculty responded more favorably to the program’s impact on communication skills (median 5.0 vs. 4.0, p = 0.008). Faculty were more assertive about the curriculum’s capabilities to improve a learner’s ability to handle stressful situations (median 5.0 vs. 4.0, p = 0.003). Additionally, faculty had a more favorable overall impression of the REFLECT curriculum than the residents/fellows (median 5.0 vs. 4.0, p < 0.001). Radiation Oncology residents felt more strongly that the curriculum enhanced their ability to handle stressful topics, compared to Heme/Onc fellows (median 4.5 vs. 3.0, range 1–5, p = 0.379). Radiation Oncology trainees felt more consistently that the workshops improved their communication skills, compared to Heme/Onc fellows (median 4.5 vs. 3.5, range 1–5, p = 0.410). The overall impression between Rad Onc resident and Heme/Onc fellows was similar (median 4.0, p = 0.586). Conclusions: Overall, the REFLECT curriculum enhanced communication skills of trainees. Oncology trainees and faculty physicians feel that the curriculum was beneficial. As interactive skills and communication is critical to build positive interactions, further work is needed to improve the REFLECT curriculum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1786-1791
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Cancer Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Communication curriculum
  • Oncology training
  • Reflective writing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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