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Communicating a Terminal Diagnosis

Michelle Lewis-Austin

Direct observation of Health Care Providers skills when communicating a terminal diagnosis has proven to be inconsistent, unprofessional and often led to poorly made decisions by patients and family members. A review of existing literature has supported this observation. In a study conducted by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, less than 1/3 of oncologists stated that their training helped them to communicate with dying patients or transitioning goals of care. Others reported trial and error as their method of navigating this process in an attempt to yield successful and satisfying outcomes (Jackson, Mack, Matsuyama, Lakoma, Sullivan, Arnold, Weeks, Block, 2008). Another contributing factor was the lack of understanding of the components necessary to make this successful, especially regarding the needs of the patient and family. A cross sectional survey conducted by Rodriguez and Young (2005) found that keeping patients informed of their health status enabled them to make informed choices about the rest of their lives. A recent survey of novice Family Nurse Practitioners confirmed the above findings with 95 percent agreeing that they were not prepared for such a task either through education or exposure in their clinical settings. It is therefore imperative that the Healthcare Practitioner be equipped ensuring patient and family satisfaction while simultaneously increasing the practitioners’ confidence in delivering a terminal diagnosis.



This is a metadata-only record.



  • Event location
    • Room 269 Open Classroom

  • Event date
    • 4 April 2013

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Dr. Kim Hudson-Gallogly