Recommendations for communicating bad news by phone during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic


The current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic presents specific challenges for health professionals in the healthcare setting. In this emergency context, the communication of bad news is especially relevant because of the particular way it must be done: the need to maintain social distance or mobility restrictions imposed on the general population means that this task must often be carried out remotely, mostly by telephone calls. This confronts professionals with a number of particular obstacles: a) most of them have little or no training in this kind of communication skills, b) effective communication of bad news largely depends on body language, which is absent in this type of exchange, and c) since this type of remote dialogue is not recommended — except in particular circumstances such as the current ones — there is little literature available to guide the professionals who must carry out this task. This manuscript offers recommendations for remote communication of bad news by telephone, applicable to situations in which this task cannot be carried out in person. A proposal structured around four "moments" is presented to guide the remote transmission of bad news in order to improve the care of patients, families and caregivers during this exchange and to reduce the negative impact from it on health professionals.

Article's language
Brief communication