Session Type: ARHP Concurrent Abstract Session
Session Time: 2:30PM-4:00PM
Background/Purpose: A needs assessment was conducted on an evidenced-based, national lupus telephone peer counseling service, ongoing since 1988, with 30,000+ client contacts to date. We have reported on the evolution of this hospital-based program at previous ACR/ARHP annual meetings. Trained peer volunteers have proven to be skilled providers of psychosocial support for SLE & other chronic illnesses. Findings from staff & veteran peer counselors trained in 1988 & 1994 using an 8-week, 20-hour curriculum on peer counseling skills & impacts of lupus, pointed to the need to update the training program. Recommendations included more hands-on learning opportunities, increased preparation for the initial call, integration of new technology to enhance communication & shortening the length of training.
Methods: The training was revised to a 6-week, 18-hour program. The core curriculum components were maintained & included updated materials, a culture/diversity module, counseling tools, enhanced resource guide & a workbook-style trainee manual. After a comprehensive recruitment process, 8 women from diverse backgrounds, mean age 47, were selected & participated in the new training. Two instruments were utilized pre & post training to assess trainees: the Applied Knowledge Assessment (AKA), a validated 30-item multiple choice test that measures knowledge of SLE & counseling skills, & the Communications Exercise (CE), a 21-item test with rating scale & open-ended questions to assess communication skills. Paired t-tests (α=.05) were conducted to examine differences in mean scores.
Results: AKA results indicated that most trainees (75%) showed an increase in overall scores. The mean pre & post test scores (59 & 68 respectively) were significantly different, t(7) = 3.457, p=011. The relative change from pre to post was 16%. Types of questions were categorized into two groups: peer counseling skills & medical impacts of SLE. Stratified results showed that most trainees (88%) showed an improvement in counseling skills, with one trainee improving by 50%. Similarly, 75% trainees showed an increase in medical knowledge, with one trainee improving by 75%. For the CE, most trainees (88%) showed improvement in overall scores after the training. The mean pre & post test scores (60 & 83 respectively) were significantly different, t(7) = 2.808, p=026. The relative change from pre to post was 38%, with one trainee improving by 200%. Open-ended responses assessing trainee’s ability to respond to hypothetical callers underscore improved effective communication, including increases in empathy, reflecting feelings, summarizing & utilization of open-ended questions. Decreases in premature problem-solving, advice-giving & closed-ended questions were also noted.
Conclusion: Despite limitations due to a small sample size, our results highlight overall improvement in counseling skills, medical knowledge of SLE & communication skills. Results indicate that we were able to successfully enhance the training while retaining the core elements of the original curriculum. Furthermore, this training program continues to be a relevant model to effectively prepare peers to support patients with chronic illness, supporting previous findings.
To cite this abstract in AMA style:Flores MT, Rose JA, Toral P, Horton R, Karbachinskiy J. Effect of a Revised Counselor Training on Skills Development and Knowledge of Volunteers with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2016; 68 (suppl 10). https://acrabstracts.org/abstract/effect-of-a-revised-counselor-training-on-skills-development-and-knowledge-of-volunteers-with-systemic-lupus-erythematosus/. Accessed August 4, 2021.
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