A comunicação de más notícias na perspetiva dos profissionais de saúde

  • Maria Manuel Mateus Marques Claro Lopes (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Communicating bad news in the health care setting, and particularly when addressing incurable diseases (like oncological diseases) is one of the most complex and demanding tasks for the health care professionals. Besides the empirical notion of the fact, accross international literature, numberless reports of patients can be found, speaking about the innapropriate manner in which they were informed of their clinical condition, and how they believe it should have been done. However, only a few studies report how health care professionals stand on this issue, and those are mainly qualitative. The present investigation aims to understand, and analyse the way health care professionals address this issue and if their views on the subject change according to different scenarios. A questionnaire was specifically designed and sent through mail to health care professionals working at a Local Health Unit (encompassing hospital and community physicians and nurses), facing them with three different scenarios: how to break bad news to an hypothetic patient, to a relative, or if the patient was the professional himself. It was also our purpose to study the difficulties pointed out by health care professionals on this issue, in order to understand them and improve conducts. There was a good response to the questionnaire, in a total of 248 valid responses, implying the subjects are interested and the problem still stirs people up. The data obtained seems to confirm that health care professionals‟ views on this matter do change according to how close they are to the patient, wether it‟s a regular patient, a close member of the doctor/nurses “family, or if they themselves are the patient dealing with that situation. The professional group (doctor/nurse) and religious/spiritual affiliation or beliefs of the health care professionals also influenced the way they believe disclosure should happen. We concluded that breaking bad news, specially in the context of incurable disease, has to be an individualized process, and that health care professionals must be able to cope with their own emotions and personal feelings towards death in order to communicate better with their patients. This process implies developing communication skills that are not usually talked about in pre-graduate training, though according to our subjects that is precisely be the right time to do it.
Date of Award29 May 2014
Original languagePortuguese
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorLuís Sá (Supervisor) & Sílvia Coelho (Co-Supervisor)


  • Communication in health care setting
  • End-of-life issues
  • Breaking bad news
  • Disclosure
  • Truth telling


  • Mestrado em Cuidados Paliativos

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