Breaking bad news: the patient’s viewpoint.

Link to article at PubMed

Breaking bad news: the patient's viewpoint.

Health Commun. 2011 Oct;26(7):649-55

Authors: Munoz Sastre MT, Sorum PC, Mullet E

The objective of this study was to ascertain how patients judge the acceptability of physicians' communication of bad news. Two hundred forty-five adults, who had in the past received bad medical news, indicated the acceptability of physicians' conduct in 48 vignettes of giving bad news to patients. Vignettes were all combinations of five factors: level of bad news (infection with hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, or liver cancer); request or not to the patient to come with spouse or partner; attempt or not by the physician to find out the patient's expectations about the test results; presence or absence of emotional supportiveness; and provision or not of complete and understandable information. In addition, nine physicians rated the same vignettes. Quality of information and emotional supportiveness explained more than 95% of the variance in patients' acceptability judgments, while the degree of badness of the news had no impact. In addition, for patients, low emotional supportiveness could not be fully compensated by high quality of information, nor the inverse. Physicians, in contrast, responded as if such compensations were possible. Physicians must appreciate that patients expect high levels of both empathy and information quality, no matter how bad the news.

PMID: 21598151 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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