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Description of a training protocol to improve research reproducibility for dignity therapy: an interview-based intervention

, Lisa Scarton, Susan Bluck, Yingwei Yao, Gail Keenan, George Handzo, Harvey M. Chochinov, George Fitchett, Linda L. Emanuel,
Palliative and Supportive Care pp 1-11; doi:10.1017/s1478951521000614

Abstract: Background Dignity Therapy (DT) has been implemented over the past 20 years, but a detailed training protocol is not available to facilitate consistency of its implementation. Consistent training positively impacts intervention reproducibility. Objective The objective of this article is to describe a detailed method for DT therapist training. Method Chochinov's DT training seminars included preparatory reading of the DT textbook, in-person training, and practice interview sessions. Building on this training plan, we added feedback on practice and actual interview sessions, a tracking form to guide the process, a written training manual with an annotated model DT transcript, and quarterly support sessions. Using this training method, 18 DT therapists were trained across 6 sites. Results The DT experts’ verbal and written feedback on the practice and actual sessions encouraged the trainees to provide additional attention to eight components: (1) initial framing (i.e., clarifying and organizing of the patient's own goals for creating the legacy document), (2) verifying the patient's understanding of DT, (3) gathering the patient's biographical information, (4) using probing questions, (5) exploring the patient's story thread, (6) refocusing toward the legacy document creation, (7) inviting the patient's expression of meaningful messages, and (8) general DT processes. Evident from the ongoing individual trainee mentoring was achievement and maintenance of adherence to the DT protocol. Discussion The DT training protocol is a process to enable consistency in the training process, across waves of trainees, toward the goal of maintaining DT implementation consistency. This training protocol will enable future DT researchers and clinicians to consistently train therapists across various disciplines and locales. Furthermore, we anticipate that this training protocol could be generalizable as a roadmap for implementers of other life review and palliative care interview-based interventions.
Keywords: Cancer care / Dignity therapy / Hospice / Life review / Palliative care

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