How to Break Bad News: A Guide for Health Care Professionals

Front Cover
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992 - Family & Relationships - 223 pages

Based on Buckman's award-winning training videos and Kason's courses on interviewing skills for medical students, this volume is an indispensable aid for doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, social workers, and all those in related fields.

For many health care professionals and social service providers, the hardest part of the job is breaking bad news. The news may be about a condition that is life-threatening (such as cancer or AIDS), disabling (such as multiple sclerosis or rheumatoid arthritis), or embarrassing (such as genital herpes). To date medical education has done little to train practitioners in coping with such situations. With this guide Robert Buckman and Yvonne Kason provide help.

Using plain, intelligible language they outline the basic principles of breaking bad new and present a technique, or protocol, that can be easily learned. It draws on listening and interviewing skills that consider such factors as how much the patient knows and/or wants to know; how to identify the patient's agenda and understanding, and how to respond to his or her feelings about the information. They also discuss reactions of family and friends and of other members of the health care team.

From inside the book


Why Breaking Bad News Is Difficult
Basic Communication Skills
A SixStep Protocol

3 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1992)

Robert Buckman, M.D., Ph.D. (1948–2011), was an oncologist and professor at the University of Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital. He was the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters as well as of books, including How to Break Bad News, What You Really Need to Know about Cancer, and Human Wildlife, all three published by Johns Hopkins.

Bibliographic information