Communicating sad, bad, and difficult news in medicine

Fallowfield, Lesley and Jenkins, Valerie (2004) Communicating sad, bad, and difficult news in medicine. Lancet, 363 (9405). pp. 312-9. ISSN 0140-6736

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In every medical specialty bad, sad, and difficult information must be given to patients and their families. An insensitive approach increases the distress of recipients of bad news, may exert a lasting impact on their ability to adapt and adjust, and can lead to anger and an increased risk of litigation. Many doctors also find these interactions stressful, and in the absence of much effective training they may adopt inappropriate ways of delivering bad news and coping with the emotional fall-out. Recognition of these difficulties has led to many initiatives, ranging from increased communication skills training to the development of guidelines and protocols. We review some of the research on the impact that giving sad, bad, and difficult news has on doctors and patients, and assess whether interventions are helping. We focus mainly on difficulties encountered involving parents in an obstetric or paediatric setting, people in acute trauma situations such as accident and emergency departments, and patients with cancer.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: 1474-547x Journal Article
Keywords: Attitude of Health Personnel Attitude to Health *Communication Great Britain Humans Medical Oncology/education/methods Obstetrics/education/methods Pediatrics/education/methods *Physician-Patient Relations Practice Guidelines Professional-Family Relations Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't *Truth Disclosure United States
Schools and Departments: Brighton and Sussex Medical School > Sussex Health Outcomes Research & Education in Cancer (SHORE-C)
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R728 Practice of medicine. Medical practice economics
R Medicine > R Medicine (General) > R735 Medical education
Depositing User: Tracy Woodcock
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2011 15:46
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2017 16:31
Google Scholar:314 Citations
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