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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 48

of 'Communication of prognosis in palliative care'

Breaking bad news: consensus guidelines for medical practitioners.
Girgis A, Sanson-Fisher RW
J Clin Oncol. 1995 Sep;13(9):2449-56.
PURPOSE AND DESIGN: One of the more difficult tasks that clinicians must perform as part of their care of patients is that of conveying bad news, such as a severe diagnosis or death. However, there is a paucity of empirically founded information that relates to the specific steps for breaking bad news. We report on a set of guidelines for breaking bad news that was developed using a consensus process and incorporates the views of medical oncologists, general practitioners, surgeons, nurse consultants, social workers, clergy, human rights representatives, cancer patients, hospital interns, and clinical directors of medical schools in Australia. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: It is recommended that further research be undertaken in a number of areas. First, there is a need to assess patients' versus providers' perceptions of the importance of each of the steps in breaking bad news, in order to define criteria for minimal levels of competence in this area. Second, controlled trials are needed to assess the effectiveness of the guidelines in changing clinical practice, and to identify the most effective strategies for breaking bad news to patients.
New South Wales Cancer Council Cancer Education Research Program, Newcastle, Australia.