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Behav Med. 1998 Summer;24(2):53-9.

Breaking bad news. 1: Current best advice for clinicians.

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New South Wales Cancer Council Cancer Education Research Program (CERP), Newcastle, Australia.


Reviews of the literature on how to convey bad news to patients with serious diseases have identified a paucity of empirically based information to guide clinicians in undertaking this difficult task. In 1994, consensus guidelines for clinicians that incorporated the views of medical oncologists, general practitioners, surgeons, nurse consultants, social workers, clergy, human-rights representatives, cancer patients, hospital interns, and clinical directors of medical schools were developed in Australia. Since then, the guidelines have been published widely and incorporated into other documents outlining recommendations for the best practices. The most recent version of the guidelines on breaking bad news is reported in this article. Revisions based on feedback from key groups, including medical schools and clinicians, and on comparisons of the views of breast cancer patients with their providers' views on the importance of each recommendation in the guidelines are included, and suggestions for future research are detailed.

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