Communicating a terminal prognosis in a palliative care setting: Deficiencies in current communication training protocols

Elaine M. Wittenberg-Lyles, Joy Goldsmith, Sandra E Sanchez-reilly, Sandra L. Ragan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The goal of this study was to understand the use and effectiveness of current communication protocols in terminal prognosis disclosures. Data were gathered from an interdisciplinary palliative care consultation service team at a Veterans Hospital in Texas, USA. Medical communication guidelines, a consistent component in United States palliative care education, propose models for delivery of bad news. However, there is little empirical evidence that demonstrates the effectiveness of these guidelines in disclosures of a terminal prognosis. Based on ethnographic observations of terminal prognosis meetings with dying patients, palliative care team meetings, and semi-structured interviews with palliative care team practitioners, this study notes the contradictory conceptualizations of current bad news communication guidelines and highlights that communicating a terminal prognosis also includes (1) adaptive communication based on the patient's acceptability, (2) team based/family communication as opposed to physician-patient dyadic communication, and (3) diffusion of topic through repetition and definition as opposed to singularity of topic. We conclude that environmentally based revision to communication protocol and practice in medical school training is imperative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2356-2365
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume66
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2008

Fingerprint

Palliative Care
Communication
communication
Disclosure
Guidelines
news
Veterans Hospitals
Patient Care Team
protocol
Communication Training
Palliative care
Medical Schools
dying
Referral and Consultation
physician
education
Interviews
Physicians
Education
interview

Keywords

  • Communication
  • End-of-life
  • Medical education
  • Palliative care
  • Terminal prognosis
  • USA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Health(social science)

Cite this

Communicating a terminal prognosis in a palliative care setting : Deficiencies in current communication training protocols. / Wittenberg-Lyles, Elaine M.; Goldsmith, Joy; Sanchez-reilly, Sandra E; Ragan, Sandra L.

In: Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 66, No. 11, 06.2008, p. 2356-2365.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Wittenberg-Lyles, Elaine M. ; Goldsmith, Joy ; Sanchez-reilly, Sandra E ; Ragan, Sandra L. / Communicating a terminal prognosis in a palliative care setting : Deficiencies in current communication training protocols. In: Social Science and Medicine. 2008 ; Vol. 66, No. 11. pp. 2356-2365.
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