Brief Training on Patient Anger Increases Oncology Providers' Self-Efficacy in Communicating With Angry Patients

James I. Gerhart, Veronica Sanchez Varela, John W. Burns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Context Anger is a common reaction to pain and life-limiting and life-threatening illness, is linked to higher levels of pain, and may disrupt communication with medical providers. Anger is understudied compared with other emotions in mental health and health care contexts, and many providers have limited formal training in addressing anger. Objectives The objective of this study was to assess if a brief provider training program is a feasible method for increasing providers' self-efficacy in responding to patient anger. Methods Providers working in stem cell transplant and oncology units attending a brief training session on responding to patient anger. The program was informed by cognitive behavioral models of anger and included didactics, discussion, and experiential training on communication and stress management. Results Provider-rated self-efficacy was significantly higher for nine of 10 skill outcomes (P <.005) including acknowledging patient anger, discussing anger, considering solutions, and using relaxation to manage their own distress. All skill increases were large in magnitude (Cohen's d = 1.18–2.22). Conclusion Providers found the program to be useful for increasing their confidence in addressing patient anger. Discussion, didactics, and experiential exercises can support provider awareness of anger, shape adaptive communication, and foster stress management skills.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-360.e2
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • Anger
  • aggression
  • burnout
  • cancer
  • communication
  • providers
  • training


Dive into the research topics of 'Brief Training on Patient Anger Increases Oncology Providers' Self-Efficacy in Communicating With Angry Patients'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this