Journal of Cancer Education

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 154–159 | Cite as

“Breaking Bad News”: Standardized Patient Intervention improves communication skills for hematology-oncology fellows and advanced practice nurses

  • Ahmed EidEmail author
  • Michael Petty
  • Laura Hutchins
  • Reed Thompson


Background. Breaking bad news is 1 of cancer specialists’ most common and difficult duties, yet hematology-oncology fellowship programs typically offer little formal preparation for this daunting task. We designed the Breaking Bad News Standardized Patient Intervention (BBNSPI) as a standardized patient educational intervention to improve the communication skills of hematology-oncology fellows (HOFs) and advanced practice nurses (APNs) in breaking bad news to cancer patients. Methods. A total of 6 HOFs and 2 APNs participated in the preintervention test and an educational session designed to improve communication skills. A total of 5 HOFs and 1 APN participated in the postintervention test 1 week later. Results. The average test score of the participants improved from 56.6% in the preintervention test to 68.8% (P<.005) in the postintervention test. The preintervention perception survey showed that 2 of 6 subjects (33%) expected the intervention to improve their communication skills in breaking bad news compared to 5 of 6 subjects (83%) in the postintervention survey (P<.08). The long-term intervention perception survey showed that all 6 subjects (100%) thought the intervention improved their communication skills in breaking bad news to cancer patients* (P<.048). Conclusions. BBNSPI improved HOFs’ and APNs’ communication skills in breaking bad news to cancer patients. The perception of the subjects about BBNSPI was positive.


Communication Skill Standardize Patient Communication Skill Training Female Breast Cancer Patient Perception Survey 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ahmed Eid
    • 3
    Email author
  • Michael Petty
    • 1
  • Laura Hutchins
    • 2
  • Reed Thompson
    • 2
  1. 1.Rush UniversityChicago
  2. 2.University of Arkansas for Medical SciencesLittle Rock
  3. 3.Division of Hematology-Oncology, Dan L. Duncan Cancer CenterBaylor College of Medicine, BCM Faculty CenterHouston

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