Breaking bad news: Structured training for family medicine residents

Lea Ungar*, Mordechai Alperin, Gilad E. Amiel, Zvi Beharier, Shmuel Reis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Previous research has shown that physicians experience incompetence and difficulty in dealing with patients' feelings after they have broken bad news to them. During the past 10 years, we have implemented a longitudinal training program targeting these issues. The present article describes this training and discusses its contribution to doctors' skills at approaching distressed patients. In order to cope with breaking bad news to patients and their families, physicians should be skilled at crisis intervention and communication techniques. They should also be aware of their personal attitudes and emotional reactions when breaking bad news. Each session encompassed these areas, as well as the most prominent issues arising when breaking bad news. In a 1-5 Likert scale, the course received an overall score of 4.47 (S.D. 0.51). Participants noted that they had gained relevant communication skills for future patient encounters.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)63-68
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Bad news
  • Communication skills
  • Educational program


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