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11 The experience of hearing life altering medical news? Perspectives from health professionals
  1. Mike Dilley1,2,
  2. Anita Rose1,3,
  3. Neil Bindemann1
  1. 1Person-Centred Neurosciences Society
  2. 2Brain and Mind Ltd
  3. 3Ascot Rehabilitation


Introduction and Objectives Being diagnosed with a neurological condition can lead to an adverse effect on a person’s wellbeing. Wellbeing is unique to individuals as is the experience of neurological change regardless of condition. Therefore, we could hypothesize it is likely that the same diagnosis will affect people differently. Furthermore, it is argued that giving a life-altering diagnosis is a traumatic experience not only for the person receiving the news but also for the person giving the news. Such hypotheses suggest the need of a person-centred care approach when breaking bad news.

To explore this further several healthcare professionals (HCPs) who had received a diagnosis of a neurological condition were interviewed about their experience. Being HCPs meant they also could reflect on their experience of breaking bad news making this study unique.

Method HCPs, diagnosed with a neurological condition, were invited to a ‘roundtable’ held on zoom. A qualitative interview approach was utilised, and the transcript was analysed for themes.

Results Themes elicited included. False Optimism: Hope, Language, Honesty, Shared Responsibility, Preparation, Empower, Safe, Realistic, Time, Individualistic, Engaged, Empathy. These themes occurred in both the experience of receiving and in giving bad news.

Conclusion This acknowledges the significance of learning from those who have lived experiences of life-altering diagnoses. This knowledge will be invaluable in supporting both the HCP in giving news and the individual receiving the news, and can help with the creation of simple guidance when having to impart life-altering medical news such as:

  1. Establish an appropriate setting

  2. Check the patient’s perception of the situation prompting the news regarding the illness or test results

  3. Determine the amount of information known or how much information is desired

  4. Know the medical facts and their implication, before initiating the conversation

  5. Explore the emotions raised during the interview

  6. Respond with empathy

  7. Establish a strategy for support

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