Breaking bad news: tackling cultural dilemmas
journal contributionposted on 08.10.2021, 09:01 by Sophie Nilusha Holmes, Janet Christina IllingJanet Christina Illing
Requesting that serious diagnoses be concealed from patients, a widespread phenomenon in many cultures, presents a professional dilemma. Practical and sensitive communication strategies are needed.
Methodology: In this paper, we use analysis of the existing literature to develop a communication tool for practitioners facing requests for diagnostic non-disclosure. Our approach builds on existing strategies, in providing a mnemonic communication tool, permitting more than one outcome, and focusing on the need for mutual understanding and cooperation.
Results: Existing work on this dilemma highlights the need to appreciate the family's standpoint, affirm their benevolent intentions and correct misperceptions. To this end, we have developed a mnemonic tool, 'ARCHES', to be used in situations where the family has requested diagnostic non-disclosure. The model has six stages: acknowledge the request for non-disclosure, build the relationship, find common ground, honour the patient's preferences and outline the harm of non-disclosure, provide emotional support and devise a supportive solution.
Conclusion: Facing requests for diagnostic non-disclosure is a challenge of communication. The dilemma is particularly marked when practising across cultures. Our model gives a structure for building rapport with the family and realigning their misperceptions while upholding the patient's right to knowledge.
CommentsThe original article is available at https://spcare.bmj.com/
Published CitationHolmes SN, Illing J. Breaking bad news: tackling cultural dilemmas. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2021;11(2):128-132.
Publication Date19 May 2021
- Health Professions Education Centre
- Health Professions Education
- Published Version (Version of Record)