Home » Tumors and the humanization of treatments: the training school for «Humanities in Oncology» specialists begins

Tumors and the humanization of treatments: the training school for «Humanities in Oncology» specialists begins

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Tumors and the humanization of treatments: the training school for «Humanities in Oncology» specialists begins

by Health Editorial Staff

A space where oncologists will be able to learn essential skills that go beyond scientific ones, such as the willingness to listen, the ability to understand the patient’s subjective point of view and the ability to build together a path that respects the needs of the individual patient

In our country, doctors and nurses receive little or no training in the humanization of care. Yet numerous studies have shown that more person-oriented care can make a difference in the life of a cancer patient. After diagnosis, the majority of patients develop anxiety and depression. It would be enough to increase psycho-social interventions in oncology departments to significantly reduce patients’ “distress” (negative stress). In Italy the vast majority of healthcare workers have not received specific training to increase the skills that allow for more humanized care. On a scale from zero to ten, doctors’ training on clinical communication or the helping relationship reaches a score of 2.75, with greater negative repercussions on complex pathologies such as cancer. With the aim of filling this gap, the College of Primary Hospital Medical Oncologists (CIPOMO) created the «Humanities in Oncology» School, one of the first in Europe to create a connection between oncology, the human sciences applied in medicine and communication training, aimed at medical oncologists. This is a structured program that will start with a residential course in Piacenza on March 1st and will continue with other initiatives distributed across the national territory (FAD courses, thematic workshops, itinerant courses).

Healing question

«In this phase of great scientific and technological development, there is an enormous demand for healing around us, which often develops very far from the Christian tradition – explains HE Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life -. Many people today go in search of magical, occult, miraculous and astrological practices. I believe that this frantic search for protection, safety and healing is a question that often goes unheeded. The question of healing, even if it is often poorly posed, is nothing other than a great question of love. And we must respond. Therefore, I encourage CIPOMO to continue on the path undertaken with this initiative.” «Our school aims to promote that set of relational and human communication skills necessary in the oncologist profession – explains Luisa Fioretto, president of CIPOMO, founding member of the School, director of the Oncology Department of the Central Tuscany Health Authority -. These are skills that often remain outside of normal university and post-university training courses. With a view to continuous training, the School will be able to represent a space for growth for all oncologists interested in post-university specialist courses in the field of communication and medical humanities”. By humanization of care we mean that process in which the patient must be placed at the center of care. «This concept marks the transition from a conception of the patient as a mere carrier of a pathology to a conception of the patient as a person, with his feelings, his knowledge, his beliefs regarding his own state of health» continues President Fioretto.

A traumatic event

The theme of the humanization of patient service was included for the first time in the 2014-2016 Health Pact by the Ministry of Health and AGENAS. In the document, humanization is defined as a commitment to making places of assistance and diagnosis and therapy programs oriented as much as possible to the person considered in his or her physical, social and psychological entirety. «Despite the notable progress both in the field of diagnosis and anti-tumor therapy, which allow increasingly higher percentages of patients to be cured, I would like to recall what Dan Longo (deputy editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and professor at Harvard Medical School) writes – he adds Luigi Cavanna, past president and founding member of the CIPOMO school -: “Patients experience the diagnosis of cancer as one of the most traumatic and upsetting events they have ever faced. Regardless of the prognosis, the diagnosis involves a change in self-image and of one’s role both in the family and at work”. For this reason it is essential to convey to the patient that he will not be alone in facing the disease, but will have doctors and nurses at his side, not only with technical skills but also with human understanding, closeness and kindness.” «For this reason, when a person is faced with a cancer diagnosis, humanising their diagnostic and therapeutic pathways and their places of assistance takes on a strategic nature, both in favor of the patient regarding the quality of the care received and perceived, and in favor of healthcare workers regarding to the professional experience lived – underlines Alberto Scanni, president emeritus and founding member of the CIPOMO school -. Everyone wins. Numerous studies have shown that the effects of doctor-patient communication are more supportive of the greater effectiveness of therapies and an improvement in the patient’s quality of life.”

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Skills that can be learned

The ability to humanize care does not depend on the sensitivity of the individual doctor, but is a skill that, according to CIPOMO, can and must be learned. «Managing a complex relationship like the doctor-patient one requires numerous skills that must be integrated – concludes President Fioretto -, an instinctive ability to care is not enough, nor a general empathy. You need to know how to “train” these skills.” «It is therefore pressing – concludes Monsignor Renzo Pegoraro, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy for Life – the need to connect our medical specializations with the indications of psychology, without neglecting attention to the spiritual dimensions of people, to their questions on the request meaning of life, which emerge in a new way when one is on a journey of illness and treatment.” The first course is made up of three modules, for a total of 37 hours of training for which 50 ECM credits will be recognised. The training objective of this first course is to promote awareness and processing of personal experiences in the profession of medical oncologist; the development of communication and relational skills in managing patients and family members; the development of communication and relational skills in relationships with colleagues.

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February 28, 2024 (modified February 28, 2024 | 09:32)


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