Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

Fall 2019

Enriching Communication Skills for Health Professions in Oncofertility (ECHO) Online Training Program

Gwendolyn Quinn, PhD and Susan Vadaparampil, PhD 

Are you a psychologist, social worker, nurse, or advanced practice provider who works with Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer patients (ages 15-45)? Enriching Communication Skills for Health Professionals in Oncofertility (ECHO) is a web-based training program focused on building communication skills to address the needs of reproductive health issues for your AYA cancer patients.

This program is available at no cost. You will receive free educational materials, training facilitated by a national team of experts, and upon completion of the program a certificate of completion as well as continuing education credits.

Reproductive health is a key issue for Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) oncology patients and survivors. Guidelines from professional organizations such as the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and National Comprehensive Cancer Network all recommend healthcare providers discuss the risk of infertility and fertility preservation guidelines, refer to reproductive specialists as needed, and document discussions, as well as attend to other aspects of reproductive health such as sexual functioning and contraception. Additionally, in 2013, ASCO published updated clinical practice guidelines for fertility preservation in AYA cancer patients. The revised guidelines extended the responsibility for discussion and referral for fertility preservation beyond the medical oncologist to explicitly include other clinician specialties and allied health care professionals (AHP) in the oncology care setting. This recommendation supports the widely adopted multidisciplinary approach used in many cancer care settings.

To address guidelines from professional organizations, the ECHO training program 1) expanded training to include not only nurses but also psychologists, social workers, and advanced practice providers and 2) covers topics beyond infertility and fertility preservation to include romantic partnering, friendships, body image, sexual functioning, sexual identity and orientation, contraception, and psychosexual adjustment. To date, we have trained 313 AHPs from over 45 states in the US and have 2 more trainings scheduled for January-March of 2020 and 2021. We have continued to receive positive feedback from participants about the training.

Prior to ECHO, Educating Nurses about Reproductive Issues in Cancer Healthcare (ENRICH) was a web-based training program developed in 2011 to assist oncology nurses with timely communication and relevant information regarding risk of infertility, and fertility preservation to AYA patients and survivors. This program was funded by a 5-year R25 Cancer Education Training Grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). A total of 233 nurses completed the training; participant knowledge scores and confidence in communication skills regarding fertility increased. Participants also reported increases in fertility related discussions and referrals, and higher rates of documentation after completing the training program.

For additional information or questions, please contact us at (813) 745-6213 or ECHO@Moffitt.org. All interested applicants should visit www.echo.rhoinstitute.org to complete their application online no later than November 22nd, 2019.