Training Health Professionals to Support Patients with Appearance-Affecting Conditions
A Pan-European Evaluation of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Approach to Patient Communication
Keywords:psychoeducation, patient-provider interaction, acceptance and commitment therapy, body image
Multidisciplinary health professionals (HPs) are involved in supporting patients who have conditions that affect their appearance. With appearance-associated distress common in this group, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and enhanced communication skills both show effectiveness in helping patients adjust to their conditions. Multidisciplinary HPs are perfectly placed to provide low-level psychological support as paraprofessionals. We present the real-world evaluation of a training programme, ACT Now, which was delivered via the train-the-trainer model to 149 multidisciplinary HPs in six European countries. Trainees completed a 16-item knowledge, attitude and practice survey covering psychoeducation on appearance concerns, ACT applied to the patient group and communication skills, at pre-training, post-training and at 3-or-6-month follow-up. Findings show that trainees’ confidence consistently improved in understanding specific facets of appearance concerns and ACT processes, with largely positive changes in other facets, skewed towards delivery nations in which psychologists delivered the training. Patient communication skills generally improved, though again these were more pronounced in psychologist-led countries. However, an absence of significant improvements in ACT comprehension suggests a challenge in transmitting the ACT model to HPs. Providing more initial training to non-psychologist trainers and embedding post-training skills practice for trainees may help reinforce the ACT component of the training.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Fabio Zucchelli, Martin Persson, Marios Argyrides, Maria Bigaki, Olivia Donnelly, Martina Drevenšek, Vasaliki Holeva, Triin Jagomägi, Marilena Mousoulidou, Van Thai Nguyen, Eleni Parlapani, Alja Plut, Heidi Williamson
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