As Head of Oncological Surgery and the Gynecology Clinic at Berlin’s Charité Comprehensive Cancer Center, Jalid Sehouli is one of the world’s leading cancer specialists. Every day, he experiences situations in which conversations take on a life-or-death significance.
Delivering bad news is one of the most difficult tasks we face in life, especially for professionals such as doctors, police, or crisis intervention personnel, yet it is rarely touched on during training.
Over the course of their career, a doctor will hold conversations with around 200,000 patients and their relatives that invariably involve delivering good or bad news. Either way, existential questions will arise, and the way the news is delivered is vital: recent studies show that it has a significant impact on patients’ quality of life and the way they experience treatment.
Mixing his wide-ranging professional experience with personal stories, Sehouli describes the emotions and perspectives of those who have to give and receive bad news from a broad perspective. His book can be helpful for anyone who has to deliver bad news—managers, friends, or parents.
Table of Contents
The moment of encounter - "Please come in": Two people meet
1 Who Needs This Book, and why a Doctor had to Write it
Breaking Bad News
How is Communication Taught and Learned?
A Topic that Affects us All—Even in Private
2 Breaking Bad News Well
A Visit from the Head Doctor
An Afternoon Walk
Preparing for an Existential Conversation
What do Patients Expect of a Good Doctor?
Being Aware of One’s Role
Doctor, Why Am I So Hoarse?
How Do I Start a Conversation When Sharing Bad News?
Difficulties in Understanding
Why Silence is Sometimes the Best Answer
In the Stairwell
The Decisive Question
Truthfulness and Trust
Allowing Space for Theories of Illness and Speaking with each Other
The sad message about Mamed
The Bigger Picture: Turning Relatives into Allies
What Helps People to Assimilate Bad News?
Learning from Life Experience
Spirituality—Hope in Hopeless Times
"I Won’t Give Up, After All"
Finishing and Documenting the Conversation
"Mommy is very sick"
Examples From Outside Medicine
The Father and the Young Policeman
3 On the Search for Good News
The Good Evening News
The Chess Flower
Finding the Good in the Bad—A Question of Timing
Back at Office Hours
In Place of an Author’s Biography: My Saddest, and Most Beautiful News
What Happened with Susanne Sieckler?
Appendixes: Help for helpers, recipients and relatives
A1 Brief summary of the SPIKES method
A2 Guidelines for Announcing a Death
A3 Breaking Bad News — Seminars
A4 Checklists for Communicating Bad News
A5 Selected Scientific Research
Professor Dr. med. h.c. Jalid Sehouli is a German gynecologist and oncologist who specializes in peritoneal and ovarian cancer. He is a professor at the famous Berlin’s Charité Hospital and a writer of scientific as well as philosophic works.