Barriers and facilitating communication skills for breaking bad news: From the specialists' practice perspective

Enna Catalina Payán, David Andrés Montoya, John Jaíro Vargas, Maria Clara Vélez, Alfonso Castaño, Alicia Krikorian

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Scopus citations


    Introduction: Breaking bad news is one of a physician's most difficult duties. There are several studies related to the patient's needs, but few reflect on the doctors' experience. Materials and method: A descriptive, cross-sectional research was carried out to study issues related to the process of delivering bad news which might act as barriers and facilitating skills from the doctor's point of view. These issues were identified through a self-administered survey. Results: Participant doctors use different strategies to communicate bad news to their patients. Examples of these strategies are: to be familiar with the patients' medical history, to ensure that there is enough time, to know the patient's caregivers and/or relatives, to determine the patient's level of knowledge about his/her condition, to use non-technical words, to give information in small pieces, to assess the patient's understanding, to devise a joint action plan, among others. Conclusion: The communication barriers that were identified focused on the emotional issues of the communication process, particularly those related to the recognition of own emotions, and the limited training about communication strategies available to doctors. Consequently, there is a need to implement training programs that provide doctors with tools to facilitate the bad news communication process.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)158-166
    Number of pages9
    JournalColombia Medica
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - 2009


    • Barriers
    • Effective communication skills
    • Physician-patient communication


    Dive into the research topics of 'Barriers and facilitating communication skills for breaking bad news: From the specialists' practice perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this