Neurologists' current practice and perspectives on communicating the diagnosis of a motor neurodegenerative condition:a UK survey

Anestis, Eleftherios and Eccles, Fiona and Fletcher, Ian and Simpson, Jane (2021) Neurologists' current practice and perspectives on communicating the diagnosis of a motor neurodegenerative condition:a UK survey. BMC Neurology, 21. ISSN 1471-2377

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Abstract

Background The communication of a life-changing diagnosis can be a difficult task for doctors with potential long-term effects on patient outcomes. Although several studies have addressed the experiences of individuals with motor neurodegenerative diseases in receiving this diagnosis, a significant research gap exists regarding professionals’ perspectives, especially in the UK. This study aimed to assess UK neurologists’ current practice and perspectives on delivering the diagnosis of a motor neurodegenerative disease, explore different aspects of the process and detail the potential challenges professionals might face. Methods We conducted an anonymised online survey with 44 questions, grouped into four sections; basic demographic information, current practice, the experience of breaking bad news and education and training needs. Results Forty-nine professionals completed the survey. Overall, participants seemed to meet the setting-related standards of good practice; however, they also acknowledged the difficulty of this aspect of their clinical work, with about half of participants (46.5%) reporting moderate levels of stress while breaking bad news. Patients’ relatives were not always included in diagnostic consultations and participants were more reluctant to promote a sense of optimism to patients with poorer prognosis. Although professionals reported spending a mean of around 30–40 min for the communication of these diagnoses, a significant proportion of participants (21–39%) reported significantly shorter consultation times, highlighting organisational issues related to lack of capacity. Finally, the majority of participants (75.5%) reported not following any specific guidelines or protocols but indicated their interest in receiving further training in breaking bad news (78.5%). Conclusions This was the first UK survey to address neurologists’ practice and experiences in communicating these diagnoses. Although meeting basic standards of good practice was reported by most professionals, we identified several areas of improvement. These included spending enough time to deliver the diagnosis appropriately, including patients’ relatives as a standard, promoting a sense of hope and responding to professionals’ training needs regarding breaking bad news.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
BMC Neurology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/2700/2728
Subjects:
ID Code:
151202
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
29 Jan 2021 21:15
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
04 Aug 2021 04:55