Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients

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Overview

Physicians who care for patients with life-threatening illnesses face daunting communication challenges. Patients and family members can react to difficult news with sadness, distress, anger, or denial. This book defines the specific communication tasks involved in talking with patients with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Topics include delivering bad news, transition to palliative care, discussing goals of advance-care planning and do-not-resuscitate orders, existential and spiritual issues, family conferences, medical futility, and other conflicts at the end of life. Drs. Anthony Back, Robert Arnold, and James Tulsky bring together empirical research as well as their own experience to provide a roadmap through difficult conversations about life-threatening issues. The book offers both a theoretical framework and practical conversational tools that the practicing physician and clinician can use to improve communication skills, increase satisfaction, and protect themselves from burnout.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Amy E Beddoe, PhD (Walden University)
Description: This book describes communication in various types of patient encounters a physician will have (discussion of serious diagnoses and prognoses, dealing with conflict, involving the family in communication) and gives examples of positive communication techniques.
Purpose: Intended to help physicians better communicate with seriously ill patients, the book provides them the necessary communication tools and the means to deal with difficult, demanding, and sometimes tragic situations using good communication. Good communication requires diligence and practice. The book meets the objectives of providing physicians and others in healthcare with resources and ideas to improve communication.
Audience: Although physicians are the intended audience, anyone in the helping professions who interacts with the seriously ill could benefit from this book.
Features: The tables of descriptions of actual discussions that illustrate what happens in communication and what we can learn from these interactions are quite helpful. For instance, in the discussion of completing disease modifying therapy (pp. 70-71), the author describes the difference between praise and congratulations, the acknowledgment of the patient's experience, offering clinical experience, reframing ways of thinking, and asking open-ended questions to gather further information. The book emphasizes speaking in ways that are empathetic and open and acknowledge both patients and family members. This book is not innovative, but it offers modifications of tried and true communication methods and strategies for the specific audience and clinical arena.
Assessment: This useful step-by-step guide tailors the message of developing good communication to some of the most difficult conversations a physician will ever have.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521706186
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 170
  • Sales rank: 494,101
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Back, MD, is Professor of Medicine at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. He is also Director of the Program in Cancer Communication at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington.

Robert Arnold, MD, is Leo H. Criep Professor and Director of the Institute for Doctor-Patient Communication at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is currently President of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.

James Tulsky, MD, is Professor and Director of the Center for Palliative Care at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

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Table of Contents

1. Taking your skills to the next level; 2. Getting a good start; 3. Talking about serious news; 4. Making treatment decisions; 5. Discussing prognosis; 6. Between the big events; 7. Conducting a family conference; 8. Dealing with conflicts; 9. Transitions to end of life care; 10. Talking about dying; 11. Cultivating your skills.

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