Negotiation skills and influencing behaviours for Allied Health professionals

Ms Anna Nethercote1, Ms  Gabriela Veliz1, Ms  Prue  Deckert1, Ms Linda Betts2

1Western Health, Allied Health and Community Services Planning, Innovation, Research and Education (ASPIRE) Unit, St Albans, Australia, 2Linda Betts & Associates, ,

Aim: To investigate whether a novel Negotiation Skills and Influencing Behaviours Training Program, developed by and for Western Health Allied Health and Community Services (AH&CS), improved clinician self-rated skill and confidence to participate in effective team communication.

Method: Pre and post study of AH&CS clinicians undertaking a training program of e-learning modules and two interactive workshops during 2015-2016. Participants completed an online survey before training and following each workshop to evaluate perceived skill and confidence related to individual and team communication capabilities (E.g. confidence to express opinions, resolve conflict, participate in difficult conversations).

Results: 427 clinicians participated in Workshop 1 and 323 in Workshop 2.  Survey response rate was 100% pre training, 43% post Workshop 1 and 31% post Workshop 2.  Ten individual communication capabilities and five team communication capabilities showed statistically significant improvements (p<0.05).  Respondents who ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ avoid difficult conversations increased from 23% to 46%.  Respondents  who are ‘always’ or ‘often’ confident to speak up when a mistake is made increased from 58% to 77%.  Teams reported as ‘always’ or ‘often’ able to address issues of difference and resolve conflict increased from 76% to 90%.  Participants were highly satisfied with the program.

Significance of the findings: This innovative program enhanced clinician communication and teamwork skills, filling a significant workforce gap in improving these essential non-technical skills.  The program provides a template to be replicated in other health services.  We hypothesise acquiring improved communication skills may have a flow on effect to patient care although this requires testing.