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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 39

of 'Discussing serious news'

39
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Doctors' experience of stress during simulated bad news consultations.
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Shaw J, Brown R, Heinrich P, Dunn S
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Patient Educ Couns. 2013 Nov;93(2):203-8. Epub 2013 Jul 12.
 
OBJECTIVE: Breaking bad news (BBN) is a core component of medicine. Psychophysiological studies confirm the subjective reports of doctors that BBN is a stressful experience. This study investigated doctors' physiological stress responses prior to and during two simulated bad news consultations.
METHODS: Thirty-one doctors participated in a speech-interaction task and two simulated BBN consultations. Heart rate (HR) and skin conductance (SC) were recorded using consecutive 30-s epochs during each of the interactions. The simulations were video recorded.
RESULTS: Most doctors showed an early anticipatory increase in HR and SC that peaked during the reading of the case history prior to the BBN consultations. Most doctors then experienced a brief and relatively small stress response. However, about one-third of the doctors showed a significant and sustained stress response.
CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that most doctors were cognitively engaged with the BBN tasks, however, a small proportion of doctors might have focused more on their own internal feelings and less on these contextual features.
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: In regards to training medical students and doctors, these results suggest that there is a need to focus more on the impact of these encounters on the doctors, not just their performance during these encounters.
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Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: joanne.shaw@sydney.edu.au.
PMID