Background: Healthcare professionals' person-centered communication skills are pivotal for successful group-based diabetes education. However, healthcare professionals are often insufficiently equipped to facilitate person-centeredness and many have never received post-graduate training. Currently, assessing professionals' skills in conducting group-based, person-centered diabetes education primarily focus on experts measuring and coding skills on various scales. However, learner-centered approaches such as adequate self-reflective tools have been shown to emphasize professional autonomy and promote engagement. The aim of this study was to explore the potential of a self-assessment tool to identify healthcare professionals' strengths and areas in need of professional development to aid effective facilitation of group-based, person-centered diabetes education.
Methods: The study entails of two components: 1) Field observations of five different educational settings including 49 persons with diabetes and 13 healthcare professionals, followed by interviews with 5 healthcare professionals and 28 persons with type 2 diabetes. 2) One professional development workshop involving 14 healthcare professionals. Healthcare professionals were asked to assess their person-centered communication skills using a self-assessment tool based on challenges and skills related to four educator roles: Embracer, Facilitator, Translator, and Initiator. Data were analyzed by hermeneutic analysis. Theories derived from theoretical model 'The Health Education Juggler' and techniques from 'Motivational Interviewing in Groups' were used as a framework to analyze data. Subsequently, the analysis from the field notes and interview transcript were compared with healthcare professionals' self-assessments of strengths and areas in need to effectively facilitate group-based, person-centered diabetes education.
Results: Healthcare professionals self-assessed the Translator and the Embracer to be the two most skilled roles whereas the Facilitator and the Initiator were identified to be the most challenged roles. Self-assessments corresponded to observations of professional skills in educational programs and were confirmed in the interviews.
Conclusion: Healthcare professionals self-assessed the same professional skills as observed in practice. Thus, a tool to self-assess professional skills in facilitating group-based diabetes education seems to be useful as a starting point to promote self-reflections and identification of healthcare professionals' strengths and areas of need of professional development.