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Health Communication Training for Health Professionals (H-COM)

H-COM addresses the shortage of specialised health communication training for medical doctors. It aims to (1) Map the precise shortage of relevant training (2) Explore the needs and perceptions of health professionals concerning communication, (3) Develop, test and evaluate training in health communication through non formal Vocational Training channels (national & EU workshops) and e-learning. (3) Validate this training through formal Vocational Training channels, and identify key skills and competencies (4) Disseminate widely the training tools, encourage its exploitation, exchange best practice and create networks of cooperation. The long term goal of H-COM is to create a comprehensive and validated training for the improvement of skills and competencies of medical doctors in health communication, and ultimately improve patient-doctor relationship and health outcomes among patients across the EU.

From a European labour market perspective it is of great importance to bring together the higher qualification levels (ISCED 5 and 6) with flexible up scaling pathways grounded on pertinent assessment, validation, and recognition procedures. As it is stated in CEDEFOP’s analysis “validating and accrediting people’s knowledge, skills and competencies could help customize training and make it more cost-effective”. It is not only the lower and medium qualifications levels that need up scaling. Vocational Education and Training could be proved a critical factor concerning the productiveness and efficiency of health care professionals, who despite their higher educational background they usually lack certain soft skills as those described here. The use of e-learning methodology and web applications, in parallel with traditional training method, is in line with the aim of growing use of digital learning.

The lack of specialized training in communication issues has an effect on patient-doctor relationships. H-COM will develop, implement, evaluate and validate innovative training with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competencies of medical doctors in health communication, thus improving doctor-patient relationships and interdisciplinary team communication, cooperation and ultimately health outcomes.

More specifically, H-COM addresses the issue of health communication and responds to specific shortages identified at an EU level by providing innovative skills learning, building capacity and improving skills mismatches. Although health communication has been identified as a crucial factor for the health care sector (it impacts profoundly on patient health outcomes) training is usually restricted to academic settings where it is also very limited. There is evidence that communication skills deteriorate during residency and clinical practice years. Related training opportunities outside the tertiary level are limited, while the need for medical doctors to become better communicators is very important.  

The innovation of H-COM lies in three specific areas:
 - Actual training offered for the specific field, which is highly needed and currently scarce at a Vocational Training level
 - The methodology followed for developing the training tools which allows for the active participation of the target group taking into consideration their perspectives and needs. In addition, the development of the training will be guided by an analysis of best practice examples of health communication training across the EU, combined with original research with the target groups identifying barriers and obstacles from the actual practice field. This will lead to the development of specialised elective modules selected by medical doctors themselves
 - Training methods - apart from face -to - face training, e.g. actual workshops (national & EU), an e-learning platform (where off line and on line tools and materials such as webinars) will be available. Delivery of the training program will take place through non formal vocational training channels and ICT applications.

Project manager: Piotr Sakowski: Piotr.Sakowski@imp.lodz.pl


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