Communication skills of healthcare professionals in paediatric diabetes services

TitleCommunication skills of healthcare professionals in paediatric diabetes services
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsHambly, H, Robling, M, Gregory, J, Crowne, E, Hood, K
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Start Page502 - 509


To identify training needs in communication skills and to assess training preferences of staff working in paediatric diabetes services, which will inform the development of a learning programme in behaviour change counselling for healthcare professionals.


Three hundred and eighty-five staff in 67 UK paediatric diabetes services were sent questionnaires to determine their previous communication skills training, to measure their self-reported view of the importance of and confidence in addressing common clinical problems and to assess the perceived feasibility of training methods to improve skillfulness.


Two hundred and sixty-six questionnaires (69%) were returned from 65 services. Sixteen per cent of doctors, nurses and dietitians reported no previous training in communication skills and 47% had received no training since graduating. Respondents rated psychosocial issues as more important to address than medical issues within consultations (t = 8.93, P < 0.001), but felt less confident addressing such issues (t = 15.85, P < 0.001). One-day workshops and monthly team meetings were the most popular of the training options considered (65% and 77%, respectively). CD ROM and web-based learning were considered feasible for 54% and 56% of respondents, respectively, although lack of time (55%) and privacy (34%) were potential barriers.


Addressing psychosocial issues is an important component of consultations involving young people with diabetes, but healthcare professionals find it easier to address medical issues. This represents a key training need in communication skills for diabetes professionals. The survey will inform the development of a tailored learning programme for health professionals in UK paediatric diabetes clinics.