NYMC Faculty Publications

Breaking Bad News in Neurology: Assessing Training, Perceptions, and Preparedness Among Residency Programs in Brazil

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Public Health


OBJECTIVE: • Neurology trainees and program directors recognized a lack of structured breaking bad news training. • Program directors reported that many factors hinder the implementation of breaking bad news education. • Trainees felt capable of breaking bad news, but most did not have lectures, simulations, nor feedback. • Trainees acknowledged negative feelings when breaking bad news, including sadness and helplessness. We aimed to evaluate how breaking bad news training was implemented in neurology residency programs in Brazil and to assess the perception and preparedness of trainees and program directors. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional descriptive study. Neurology trainees and program directors were recruited from the Brazilian Academy of Neurology registry through convenience sampling. Participants answered a survey evaluating the breaking bad news training at their institution and their preparedness and perception towards the topic. RESULTS: We collected 172 responses from 47 neurology institutions from all five socio-demographic regions of Brazil. More than 77% of trainees were dissatisfied with their breaking bad news training, and around 92% of program directors believed their programs required substantial improvement. Approximately 31% of neurology trainees reported never having a lecture about communicating bad news, 66% reported never having a simulated training, and nearly 61% never received feedback regarding their communication abilities. Moreover, 59% of program directors acknowledged that feedback was not a standard practice and nearly 32% reported the absence of any specific training. CONCLUSION: This study suggested that the breaking bad news training in neurology residencies across Brazil is deficient and highlighted challenges to achieve this core competency. Program directors and trainees recognized the importance of the topic, and program directors acknowledged that many factors hinder the ability to implement formal training. Given the relevance of such a skill to patient care, every effort should be made to provide structured training opportunities during residency.