Doctors with bad news seen as less compassionate
Doctors who deliver bad news may be viewed as less compassionate by patients than when they deliver positive news, according to a new study.
Scientists from the University of Texas showed 100 cancer patients two videos of fictional interactions between doctors and patients. In one video, a doctor told an advanced cancer patient that there were no further treatment options to try. In the second video, a doctor told an advanced cancer patient that there may be some further treatment options. After watching the videos, the patients were asked to rate how compassionate they viewed the doctors, using a scale of 0 to 500 with 50 being the least compassionate.
The findings, published in JAMA Oncology, showed that the patients rated the doctor delivering the good news with a score of 19, while they rated the doctor delivering the bad news with a score of 26. Researchers said that doctors delivering bad news are often viewed as less compassionate regardless of their intentions or how they frame the conversation. They said they hope that the findings can help researchers help doctors develop techniques when they have to deliver bad news, without affecting the patient's perceptions.