Team Communication

Teaching healthcare teams how to communicate more easily and more effectively


Palliative care team members need to communicate well in order to render the best possible care to the patient and family. We have designed this COMFORT Team Communication Intervention (CTC) for this purpose. In a stepped wedge cluster randomized study design, we provide on-site team communication training to community-based palliative care team members. In addition to training, we introduce a new smartphone application as a communication resource to improve team communication. Following the training, we study the impact of the training and whether it did, indeed, improve patient and family outcomes.

Family Caregivers

Teaching the family caregivers how to take care of themselves as they take care of their loved ones

Family caregivers encounter their own stress and health issues that come with taking care of family members. We need to support them, teach them self-care, how to communicate what they need, and how to access support resources as they care for their loved one. For this purpose, we designed the COMFORT Family Caregiver Intervention study and are testing the intervention on a small sample of family caregivers of lung cancer patients. Caregivers are given an easy-to-use communication guide to help them talk about cancer and are coached on how to use it. A nurse conducts a communication coaching call with each caregiver and then follows up with a repeat call one month later to see if the intervention was successful.

Family Caregiver Communication Types

What type of family caregiver are you?

We are assessing different types of caregivers and how each type communicates in different ways and has different communication needs during the experience of caregiving. This new measure, the Family Caregiver Communication Tool, addresses these communication styles and preferences. Knowing how a caregiver communicates can help healthcare providers tailor the information they deliver, for the benefit of the caregiver and the patient. We are validating this new tool among cancer caregivers.

Family Caregiver Self-Care

Teaching vulnerable family caregivers to care for themselves


Caregiving is hard enough but family caregivers with limited finances, low health literacy, or ethnic minority status, caregiving is especially hard and can take a huge toll on their own health. A sample of these vulnerable family caregivers is chosen for the COMFORT Caregiver Intervention (CCI), a culturally-tailored intervention delivered by a nurse in three teaching sessions. The goal is to teach these caregivers self-care and to improve their caregiving and communication skills, including their ability to access vital resources, which will ultimately improve the quality of care they deliver to their loved one. Communication strategies can improve caregiver self-management by teaching caregivers to ask for help when needed and how to say no to offers of help that actually increase caregiver burden.

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