No Hard Feelings: An Emotion-Focused Communication Training Moves Online

Emotion-focused communication has been shown to improve the care of those who need it within healthcare settings. Emotion-focused healthcare is a component of person-centered healthcare which focuses on fostering the emotional well-being of patients. In this study, which received a Silver 2023 Mather Institute Innovative Research on Aging Award, researchers created and evaluated an online Emotion-Focused Communication Training (EFCT) tool intended to increase emotion-focused communication among nursing home direct care workers.

Prior to creating the online EFCT training tool, direct care workers participated in a workshop where they were trained in emotional intelligence. The workshop specifically focused on how staff can take care of their own feelings and the feelings of their residents. Content from this program was then used to develop the EFCT. The program was designed to measure specific learning objectives with interactive elements, and video examples. It contains six lessons which take about 15 to 30 minutes to complete.

Participants were recruited by posting the EFCT training tool on various health and academic websites, and through written announcements in monthly healthcare newsletters. The success of the program was examined using pre- and post-evaluations. Together, they included an Acceptability of the Intervention Measure (AIM), an Intervention Appropriateness measure, and measures assessing knowledge and self-efficacy.

Results using the pre- and post-test indicate that the use of the EFCT training tool significantly increased participants’ knowledge and confidence in applying emotion-focused communication. Researchers ultimately suggest that the online EFCT training tool can be used to successfully increase emotion-focused communication among direct care workers.



Heid, A. R., Heppner, A., Cheatham, D., VanHaitsma, K., & Abbott, K. M. (2022). Emotion-focused communication training online: Development and evaluation of acceptability. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 1-14.

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