A qualitative study shows us how to break bad news to antenatal patients

Although scientific and technological progress has provided major health benefits, it can also hamper communication between healthcare personnel and patients. In modern medicine, the technical aspects of healthcare tend to prevail, in which the main focus is placed on treating the disease and less attention is paid to other aspects that are also important to the patient, such as feelings and emotions. Knowing how to communicate is an ethical and legal imperative and therefore healthcare professionals must ensure that patients are aware of everything related to their condition, to facilitate their autonomy in decision-making. If knowing how to communicate is always important, it is even more so when the content of the message is unfavourable. For example, bad news about the advance of a pregnancy can influence the mother’s decision on whether to continue or to interrupt it. Professional interventions in such cases are crucial, because the psychological consequences of the situation depend on the care and support provided. Deficiencies in the communication process can generate conflicts and dissatisfaction in the professional-patient-family relationship.

In order to improve communication, more attention should be paid to human and spiritual dimensions, prioritizing empathy, authenticity and non-judgmental listening. An appropriate model of clinical relationship should be based on shared decision making, clarifying the functions of the multidisciplinary team to alleviate a mother’s suffering when a pregnancy is interrupted. To do so, protocols should be implemented to ensure the provision of comprehensive care, not only addressing biological issues but also providing psychosocial attention. Finally, training should be provided to healthcare staff to enhance their social skills and cultural competence.

A qualitative study, based on non-participant observation and semi-structured interviews, analyzed the discourses of physicians, midwives, nurses and nursing assistants who provide healthcare to obstetric patients. It identifies potential improvements in the interventions made by healthcare personnel and in the organization of the institution, concerning the attention provided to pregnant women when an adverse prenatal diagnosis must be communicated.

If you want to read the full text, this is the link: José Atienza-Carrasco, Manuel Linares-AbadMaría Padilla-RuizIsabel María Morales-Gil. Breaking bad news to antenatal patients with strategies to lessen the pain: a qualitative study. Reproductive Health. 2018;15:11 p.



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