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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 24  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 541

Interns' perspectives about communicating bad news to patients: A qualitative study

KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
A N Supe
KEM Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 22267350

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Introduction: Communicating bad news to patients and families is an essential skill for physicians but can be difficult for interns. Very little is known about skills in this area for interns in developing countries. Method: Two focus groups, consisting of a total of 12 interns were conducted in the Seth G.S. Medical College and KEM Hospital in Mumbai, India. The grounded theory approach was used to identify common themes and concepts, which related to: (1) barriers in communicating bad news, (2) interns' confidence in communicating bad news, (3) interns' perceptions about their need for such training and (4) interns' suggested methods for training. Results: Interns described barriers in time constraints, language, their personal fears, patients' illiteracy, crowded wards with no privacy and lack of training. All interns lacked confidence in breaking news of death, but seven were confident in breaking bad news about chronic diseases or cancers. Subjects reported they had received very little classroom teaching or formal instruction in this area, though they had had opportunities to observe a few instances of breaking bad news. They expressed need for increased focus on communication skills curriculum in the form of case discussions, workshops and small group teaching, in addition to clinical observation. Conclusions: Interns in our school in Mumbai reported inadequate training and low comfort and skill in communicating bad news and expressed need for focused training.

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