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The Communication of Neurological Bad News to Parents

  • Mohammed M.S. Jan (a1) and John P. Girvin (a1)

Abstract

Communicating disappointing or unexpected neurological news to parents is often both difficult and emotionally unwelcome. At the same time, it is important that transfer of such information is done well and, indeed, if done well, can be a very rewarding experience. Limited references are available for physicians regarding the proper communication of neurological bad news to parents. This paper attempts to provide general guidelines regarding this process. The review is based on the available medical literature, detailed discussions with many senior physicians from different medical systems and the authors'personal experience. The manner in which neurological bad news is conveyed to parents can significantly influence their emotions, their beliefs and their attitudes towards the child, the medical staff, and the future. This review of the literature, combined with clinical experience, attests to the fact that most families describe emotional shock, upset, and subsequent depression after the breaking of news of a bad neurological disorder. However, the majority find the attitude of the news giver, combined with the clarity of the message and the news giver's knowledge to answer questions as the most important aspects of giving bad news.

RÉSUMÉ:

Communiquer une nouvelle décevante ou inattendue aux parents est souvent difficile et lourde au point de vue émotif en neuropédiatrie. Il est important que le transfert d'une telle information soit bien fait et, si tel est le cas, peut être une expérience très gratifiante. Il existe peu de publications disponibles pour les médecins concernant la façon appropriée de communiquer de mauvaises nouvelles aux parents en neuropédiatrie. Cet article tente de fournir des lignes directrices générales sur ce sujet. La revue est basée sur la littérature médicale disponible, des discussions détaillées avec plusieurs médecins d'expérience travaillant dans différents systèmes médicaux et l'expérience personnelle des auteurs. La façon dont une mauvaise nouvelle neurologique est donnée aux parents peut influencer significativement leurs émotions, leurs croyances et leur attitude envers l'enfant, le personnel médical et l'avenir. Cette revue de la littérature, associée à l'expérience clinique, démontre que la plupart des familles décrivent un choc émotif, se sentent perturbées, puis déprimées après l'annonce d'une maladie neurologique sévère chez leur enfant. Cependant, la majorité considère que l'attitude du professionnel qui donne la nouvelle, la clarté du message et sa capacité à répondre aux questions sont les aspects les plus importants de cette démarche.

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The Communication of Neurological Bad News to Parents

  • Mohammed M.S. Jan (a1) and John P. Girvin (a1)

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