Nurses' communication skills: An evaluation of the impact of solution-focused communication training

Nick Bowles, Carolyn Mackintosh, Alison Torn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)


Aims. This paper describes the evaluation of a short training course in solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) skills. This evaluation examined the relevance of SFBT skills to nursing and the extent to which a short training course affected nurses' communication skills. Background. Nurses' communication skills have been criticized for many years, as has the training in communication skills that nurses receive. The absence of a coherent theoretical or practical framework for communication skills training led us to consider the utility of SFBT as a framework for a short training course for qualified nurses, the majority of them are registered nurses working with adults. Design and methods. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected: the former using pre-and post-training scales, the latter using a focus group conducted 6 months after the training. Data were analysed using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test and content analysis. Results and findings. Quantitative data indicated positive changes in nurses' practice following the training on four dimensions, and changes in nurses' willingness to communicate with people who are troubled reached levels of significance. Qualitative data uncovered changes to practice, centred on the rejection of problem-orientated discourses and reduced feelings of inadequacy and emotional stress in the nurses. Conclusions. There are indications that SFBT techniques may be relevant to nursing and a useful, cost-effective approach to the training of communication skills. Solution focused brief therapy provides a framework and easily understood tool-kit that are harmonious with nursing values.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-354
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication skills
  • Conversation
  • Counselling
  • Education evaluation
  • Nursing
  • Solution-focused brief therapy


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