Health professionals’ perceptions of breaking bad news

David Dickson, Owen Hargie, Karen Brunger, Karyn Stapleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The growth of the “patient-centred” approach to health care has highlighted the importance of quality communication practices. One area that remains problematic, however, is the process of breaking bad news to patients and/or relatives. Hence, there have been calls for more research and training in this domain. Reports the findings of a study that used the critical incident technique to explore the breaking bad news encounter from the perspective of the health care practitioner. In total 33 senior medical and nursing staff reported on situations in which they described specific, vividly recalled, experiences of both “effective” and “ineffective” bad news delivery. These reported incidents were content analysed and a range of key dimensions was identified for both effective and ineffective experiences. Interpersonal communication skills emerged as particularly salient factors and these are discussed in detail, together with implications for future research and training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-336
JournalInternational Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2002


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