“Bad news communication protocols in the medical field”

Erasmus+ Programme – Strategic Partnership

Project Title: “Bad news communication protocols in the medical field”

No.  project:  2019-1-RO01-KA202-064021

Visit the official website of the project

For many years the task of delivering bad news to patients has been a subject of concern and question for the professionals in the medical field and not only. With the current trends of increased medical disclosure of diagnosis and prognosis, the importance of sensitively and effectively communicating news that might negatively alter a patient`s perception and view of the future, becomes a high necessity.

The communication of bad news can be seen as a multidisciplinary activity that requires not only the active involvement of an array of healthcare professionals such as medical doctors, nurses, therapists, etc., but also knowledge and skills of proper techniques and protocols that encompass expertise from fields such as medicine, psychology, sociology, human resources, communication, legal, etc.

Bad news situations can include disease recurrence, spread of disease, or failure of treatment to affect disease progression, the presence of irreversible side effects, results of genetic tests, or raising the issue of palliative care and resuscitation.

Notwithstanding the psychological impact of the news itself, improper bad news communication protocols, skills and techniques have a negative impact not only on the receiver but also on the deliverer.

The objectives of the Bad News Communication Protocols in the Medical Field are:

– Improving the quality of medical doctor’s professional skills in communicating bad news

– Increasing the level of humanization of medical practices in hospitals

– Reducing the negative effects of bad news communication on medical doctors, patients and families

– Awareness of the importance of training medical doctors in communicating bad news for optimal communication with the patient or family.

The target group for this project consists of medical doctors who are exposed daily to situations that involve communicating bad news and whose need for proper training is highest.

The three partner countries – Romania, Cyprus and Italy- as well as other countries in Europe face a scenario where the majority of medical doctors has not received formal training for this essential and important communication, even though delivering bad news is something that occurs daily in most medical practices.

During the entire life span of this project four Intellectual Outputs will be produced: a questionnaire that will be applied to medical doctors to establish the level of information they posses in regards to bad news communication protocols and techniques; a practical guide to an effective communication of bad news; a training course for medical doctors and an online platform in the form of a website dedicated to medical staff. Through these outputs and all the activities undertaken we are expecting the project impact to manifest as:

1. an increased awareness of medical staff and medical institutions in regards to the importance of communicating bad news

2. improved skills and new competencies of medical doctors for communicating bad news

3. improved skills and new competencies of medical doctors for managing reactions of patients and their families after receiving bad news

4. improved skills and new competencies of medical doctors for properly managing the stressful and critical situations resulting from communicating bad news

5. improved communication protocols for medical doctors

6. positive changes in specific policies at a local, national and international level

The project is expected to trigger a significant increase in bad news communication skills among medical doctors and to develop the competencies that are needed to be able to adapt said communication to specific situations. The impact will also manifest as an increase of awareness in regards to all the tools, techniques and methods that medical doctors can use in order to efficiently communicate bad news to patients and next of kin, to humanize healthcare and to increase the quality of the doctor-patient relationship therefore contributing to an overall betterment of medical services.

As an added value, the impact can manifest through fostering employability and enabling career advancements due to the increased and newly developed skills and competencies of the medical doctors.

Moreover, through its transferability attributes, the project is expected to have an impact on various groups such as first responders, firefighters, emergency psychologists or staff from law enforcement agencies who communicate bad news to families in the event of accidents. The impact on the said group will manifest through their better understanding of the subject therefore preparing them for real-life actions that can efficiently improve their skills and reactions regarding the communication of significant news.

At an organizational level, the outputs of this project will impact as acquisition of new knowledge and the formulation of new cooperation networks.


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