Psychological medicine

Breaking bad news to patients

Roger W Bartrop



Following some simple guidelines for communicating bad news can reduce patient anxiety and uncertainty and lead to better adjustment to the news and improved compliance with treatment.

Article Extract

Australian and overseas qualitative and empirical research indicates that, despite improvements in the teaching of communication skills at a graduate level and an increased level of comfort and confidence on the part of the doctor in sharing bad news, the doctor–patient interchange at such times is still often unsatisfactory. Although most evidence has been reported in the psycho-oncology literature, the importance of sensitive and informed communication goes far beyond the cancer field into cardiology, end-stage renal and liver disease, HIV medicine, intensive care units, general palliative care and elsewhere.