Healthcare professionals’ involvement in breaking bad news to newly diagnosed patients with motor neurodegenerative conditions: a qualitative study

Anestis, Eleftherios ORCID logoORCID:, Eccles, Fiona J. R., Fletcher, Ian, Triliva, Sofia and Simpson, Jane (2022) Healthcare professionals’ involvement in breaking bad news to newly diagnosed patients with motor neurodegenerative conditions: a qualitative study. Disability and Rehabilitation, 44 (25) . pp. 7877-7890. ISSN 0963-8288 [Article] (doi:10.1080/09638288.2021.2002436)

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Research on breaking bad news (BBN) in healthcare has mostly focused on the doctor-patient interaction during a single consultation. However, it has been increasingly recognised that BBN is a wider process that also involves other healthcare professionals. This qualitative study explored non-medical1 healthcare professionals’ involvement in BBN to newly diagnosed patients with motor neurodegenerative conditions in the UK.

Materials and methods
19 healthcare professionals working with people with motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease took part in individual, semi-structured interviews which were analysed using thematic analysis.

Four themes were constructed: dealing with the diagnostic aftermath, unpacking the diagnosis, breaking bad news as a balancing act and empowering patients to regain control over their health and lives. Participants reported being broadly involved in BBN by supporting patients with negative diagnostic experiences, re-iterating diagnostic information and helping patients understand the impact of their condition. The challenges of effectively breaking bad news and how these difficult conversations could help empower patients were also emphasised.

BBN was a critical and challenging aspect of healthcare professionals’ clinical work with newly diagnosed patients with motor neurodegenerative conditions. Besides providing information, BBN was perceived as a way to educate patients, encourage them to make decisions and prepare for the future.

Item Type: Article
Sustainable Development Goals:
Keywords (uncontrolled): Breaking bad news; neurodegenerative conditions; neurorehabilitation; motor neurone disease; multiple sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease; Huntington’s disease; communication
Research Areas: A. > School of Health and Education
Item ID: 37900
Notes on copyright: © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Depositing User: Eleftherios Anestis
Date Deposited: 15 May 2023 12:01
Last Modified: 15 May 2023 12:08

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