Pre-Congress Workshops

Supportive and palliative care:
8 August 2019


in collaboration with SNOSSA & PBTW:
7 & 8 August 2019

Multi-disciplinary management of patients with brain tumours
UCT Wolfson Pavilion

Workshop during congress

Guided by narrative therapy in conversations with the dying and bereaved:
10 August 2019

Cost: No additional cost. Part of registration fee.

Comprehensive information

Pre-Congress Workshops

Workshop 1: Supportive and palliative care
8 August 2019

Venue: CTICC (Room 1.4)

Cost: Please refer to the Registration Fees.

Who should attend?professionals or trainees in the field of oncology irrespective of their degree of competence in clinical communication.

This workshop will be led by Dr Elize Archer (US) and Dr Riette Burger (US).

Patient-centeredness and effective clinical communication skills have increasingly been identified by health care training institutions as desired competencies of health care practitioners (HCP). Patients have the right to be treated with respect and empathy and to participate in decision-making around their own health care. However, it is not uncommon for patients to describe their interactions with health care practitioners as not satisfying their need for information and emotional care. Whilst there may be many causes for patient dissatisfaction, one of the reasons most commonly mentioned is the lack of effective communication and empathy on the part of HCPs. Empathy is defined as an attribute that has both cognitive and affective components. Affective empathy is largely unconscious, while cognitive empathy implicates the understanding of a patient’s suffering and concerns, as well as the ability to communicate this understanding and the intention to help.

In the clinical setting empathy can influence the health care practitioner-patient relationship, as well as the diagnosis and management of the patient. Empathic HCPs who aim to understand the feelings, experiences and attitudes of their patients have a greater chance of having an effective consultation with therapeutic agreement. Studies have shown that effective clinical communication is associated with increased patient adherence to treatment recommendations, improved patient satisfaction and better resource utilization. 4,5

Cognitive empathy permits a health care practitioner to acknowledge that the patient’s perspective may not always be the same as their own. This is particularly important in situations where a cognitive bias on the part of the HCP may exist away from those with different racial, religious, social or physical attributes or backgrounds towards whom affective empathy may not be an automatic response. Cognitive empathy protects against emotional over-involvement and in fact requires self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

Patient-centred communication highly relevant in all phases of cancer treatment but becomes increasingly important as the disease progresses. There is strong evidence to show that patient-centred communication is a clinical competency that can be taught and continuously developed through regular practice, role-modelling and self-reflection. Training in communication skills is mostly offered as part of undergraduate health professions curricula, but rarely forms part of post-graduate or continuous professional development.

Through this workshop we would like to offer the oncology community an opportunity to develop their skills in patient-centred communication in an interactive session in which personal reflection on every-day lived experiences will be used to strengthen theoretical knowledge.

During this workshop we will explore the following questions:

  1. What is your personal understanding of patient-centeredness and empathy in the clinical setting and how does it relate to current teaching on the topic?
  2. To what extent are you currently practising patient-centeredness and empathy in your daily interaction with patients and how does it relate to current best practise?
  3. How can adopting such an approach benefit your patients, their families and you as HCP?
  4. How can you improve your own understanding of and ability to navigate various multicultural scenarios by utilizing cultural intelligence’s conceptual framework focusing on the components of judgment suspension, knowledge, mindfulness and behaviour?
  5. To what extent are you incorporating self-care into your daily practice?

Practical opportunities to practice specific communication skills will be provided during the workshop. Scenarios that will be addressed will include active listening, breaking bad news, shared decision making, family and care-giver involvement and effective communication amongst care-providers. This will be aligned with the principles of palliative care, clinical communication as well as cognitive empathy and emotional intelligence.


Session 1
  • Unpacking your personal understanding of patient-centeredness and empathy in the clinical setting and how it relates to current teaching on the topic.
  • Discussions around how you are currently practising patient-centeredness and empathy in your daily interaction with patients and how it relates to current best practise.
  • The benefits of adopting a patient-centred approach
11:00Session 2
  • Practical hands on session in small groups
13:45Session 3
  • Understanding how you can improve your own understanding of and ability to navigate various multicultural scenarios.
  • Small group discussions to understand various scenarios
15:00Group feedback and Conclusion
15:30Adjourn & Refreshments
Workshop 2: Neuro-Oncology, in collaboration with SNOSSA & PBTW
7 & 8 August 2019

Multi-disciplinary management of patients with brain tumours

Venue: Wolfson Pavilion, UCT with break–out sessions at department radiation Oncology, Groote Schuur Hospital

Who should attend? Adult and Paediatric health professionals who treat CNS tumours, trainees in Neurosurgery, Radiation and Clinical Oncology, Medical Oncology, Paediatric Oncology, and Palliative Medicine, Allied Health Professionals including Oncology Social Workers, Nurses and Radiographers, Parent and Advocacy Groups and Health Care Managers.

Enquiries regarding this workshop:
Debbie Rorich
Tel: +27 (0)21 910 1913

The neuro-oncology workshop is a regional collaboration between SACO, SNOSSA (Society of neuro-oncology in Sub-Saharan Africa) and PBTW (Paediatric brain tumour workshop).

The workshop precedes the South African Congress of Oncology (9 – 11 August 2019).

The Society of Neurosurgeons of South Africa (SNSA) will also host a meeting with the Society of British Neurological Surgeons (SBNS) in Cape Town over the same weekend, allowing synergism for attendees of the workshop.

The philosophy of the programme is to represent important multi-disciplinary issues in paediatric and adult neuro-oncology in a thematic and integrated fashion. Sessions will be arranged by histological diagnosis or anatomical site, and then go on to include various themes from neurosurgery, radiation oncology and medical oncology, including pathology, endocrinology, palliative care and imaging. Illustrative cases or vignettes will be used to provoke discussion. Practical hands-on contouring sessions will be included in the programme.

Please click here for more information, the programme and online registration.

Workshop during congress

Guided by narrative therapy in conversations with the dying and bereaved
10 August 2019

Venue: CTICC

Cost: No additional cost. Part of registration fee.

This workshop will be facilitated by Dr Elize Morkel (Clinical Psychologist)

Narrative therapy emphasizes the storied nature of human life. In this workshop participants will be invited to consider the ways in which stories are used in the meaning-making process of challenging life situations like life-threatening illness and death. Narrative therapists engage in conversations with their clients through questions. Externalizing questions seek to invite clients into a rich description of their lives and what they value in life. Common assumptions about the need to seek closure, complete unfinished business, work through stages or say final good-byes are often silencing of clients’ experiences and the meanings they attach to it. By joining clients in a relationship of collaboration the narrative therapist invites clients to voice their personal experiences and understandings. Re-membering conversations assist the bereaved to construct stories that continue to include the dead in the membership of their lives. This practice is in stark contrast to with processes of forgetting or dismembering those who have died. During the workshop these practices will be discussed, illustrated with examples and practiced through participation in exercises.

The questions that will be considered during the workshop:

  • Why narrative therapy? What is the relevance of the story metaphor in therapeutic conversations with the dying and bereaved?
  • What kind of questions invites a richer description of clients’ stories?
  • What contributes to thin descriptions of people’s lives? How does the unpacking of dominant cultural beliefs and professional discourses open up new possibilities for action and agency?
  • How do narrative therapists join clients in a collaborative relationship of respect and power-sharing? What is an externalizing conversation and how do these conversations contribute to collaboration?