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Breaking Bad News




  • Defines 'bad news'
  • Explains how nurses can break the bad news to their patient and family members
  • Provides an easy-to-read table on how to respond to reactions to the bad news
  • Lists and explains ways to help lessen the impact of the bad news
  • Describes the patients varied responses and how nurses can also deal with their own feelings about bad news

This chapter highlights some of the concerns of nurses dealing with the sensitive area of breaking bad news. Suggestions are provided as to the process that might be followed, yet to use skills as nurses to determine what is most appropriate in any given situation is also encouraged.


Contents include

  • What is bad news and how do nurses know when they are communicating it?
  • A process
  • The impact of bad news
  • Prior information
    • The demeanor of the communicator
    • The physical environment
    • The words used
    • The time taken to convey the information
    • Barriers in communication
  • Reactions to bad news
  • Caring for ourselves
  • References
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Author / Editor Biographies

GradCert (Advanced Nursing Cancer/Palliative Care Nursing), Cert (Cancer Nursing), RN, MRCNA.
Gordon began his nursing career in 1979, and has worked predominantly in oncology since commencing employment at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in 1980 as a State Enrolled Nurse. After completing his General Nursing Training at Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne in 1985, Gordon returned to the Cancer Institute where he has been involved in a variety of cancer care areas. Following the completion of a Certificate in Cancer Nursing at the Institute in 1988, Gordon worked for six years as a Clinical Nurse Consultant in the chemotherapy unit. During this time he was given the responsibility of c...

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