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Effective communication is necessary for good relationships between healthcare practitioners and clients. This study examined barriers and facilitators to implementing new communication skills. One hundred and ten Sure Start Children's Centre staff attended one of 13 follow-up workshops in Southampton, UK between May 2009 and February 2011 to reflect on the use of new skills following a training course in communication, reflection and problem-solving. Barriers and facilitators were assessed with an adapted Problematic Experiences of Therapy scale (PETS). Staff reported frequency of skill use, and described what made it more difficult or easier to use the skills. Complete data were available for 101 trainees. The PETS indicated that staff had confidence in using the skills, but felt that there were practical barriers to using them, such as lack of time. Skills were used less often when staff perceived parents not to be engaging with them (Spearman's correlation r s =-0.42, P<0.001), when staff felt less confident to use the skills (r s =-0.37, P<0.001) and when there were more practical barriers (r s =-0.37, P<0.001). In support of findings from the PETS, content analysis of free text responses suggested that the main barrier was a perceived lack of time to implement new skills. Facilitators included seeing the benefits of using the skills, finding opportunities and having good relationships with parents. Understanding the range of barriers and facilitators to implementation is essential when developing training to facilitate ongoing support and sustain skill use. Special attention should be given to exploring trainees' perceptions of time, to be able to address this significant barrier to skill implementation. Staff training requires a multi-faceted approach to address the range of perceived barriers. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Health and social care in the community

Publication Date





430 - 437