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How to (and how not to) disclose unfavourable diagnostic outcomes: Physician's guide

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Published: 26.07.17
Views: 2543

Doris C Schmitt and Dr Christine Klapp

A guide for the physician on how to (and how not to) disclose unfavourable diagnostic outcomes

“Caring” and “attentive” are adjectives widely used by patients to define their ideal doctor. Delivering an unfavourable diagnosis can be emotionally challenging for both the patient and the doctor, and requires the latter not only to be a medical expert, but also an empathic and understanding human being.

Being firm but compassionate and paying attention to both verbal and non-verbal cues are skills of central importance to handle delicate situations, while cold, disinterested manners and inadequate listening skills can only further feed patients’ fears.

This video shows a conversation between a woman diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and her treating physician and highlights the behaviours to avoid while disclosing bad news as well as the positive behaviours necessary to build a strong, trust-based patient-doctor relationship.

Visit to find out more about the global state of metastatic breast cancer and to learn about the impact of breast cancer on women, please visit

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