Distressing Bad News

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Giving distressing news is a common occurrence in medical settings. Patients and families are often faced with worrying medical diagnoses and treatment possibilities, and it is typically the health care provider’s duty to provide individuals with this information. An example of distressing news would be a prenatal or postnatal diagnosis of Down syndrome to new or expecting parents. While physicians often feel adequately equipped to make this diagnosis and provide management options, they sometimes find themselves at a loss as to how to share this news with the family in a way that is both supportive and informative. This lack of comfort typically stems from a lack of education. Bad medical experiences are remembered by patients and their families and can influence future medical decisions and interactions, and can ultimately negatively impact the family.
While current literature focuses on physicians and medical residents, little information is provided in regards to medical students and their experiences with disclosing upsetting news to patients and their families. The
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But how someone views this bad news depends on his or her experiences, personality, social support, and belief system. Therefore, it is impossible to determine how someone will react when given bad or distressing news (Baile, 2000). Disclosing bad news to patients is a task that physicians often have to endure. Yet, despite the frequency, physicians often have little training in regards to providing distressing news to patients. While examining how often physicians deliver bad news, Aein & Delaram (2014) found that physicians often deliver upsetting information between 5 to 20 times a month, and some physicians even more than this. Clearly this is not a rare event in medical settings and requires the necessary

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