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Tough talk: managing difficult conversations

Tough talk: how to manage difficult conversations - Featured Image

 

Communication skills are uniquely relevant in the general practice setting, because no other medical practitioner offers the continuity of care that GPs afford their patients. A new workshop, conducted by the multiple award-winning Pam McLean Centre, will address some of the most challenging communications in the context of the long-term doctor-patient relationship – breaking bad news, open disclosure following an adverse event, and initiating discussions about treatment options at the end of life. The common theme is talking about things our patients really don’t want to talk about.

Models abound – SPIKES, ABCDE, BREAKS, ISBAR etc. And models have their place. But putting the models into practice can sometimes be surprisingly hard. This workshop allows doctors to put theory into practice through trial-and-error, working with a highly trained professional actor to negotiate step-by-step through the maze of emotionally-charged communication. Just like learning to intubate on mannequins, working with actors allows us to try various approaches to communication safe in the knowledge that no-one gets hurt. The workshop is based on rigorous research, including one of Prof Dunn’s PhD student’s projects, which measured heart rate and skin conductance in doctors whilst they told a woman that her husband had just died. The results will surprise you.

In this workshop, you will meet two patients (played by two highly experienced actors) who present all these challenges in a panorama of multiple presentations. There are options to practise the delivery of bad news in different emotional contexts, and to explore appropriate responses to an angry relative when there has been a serious adverse event. Finally we will investigate ways of initiating and supporting discussions around disease progression. You will have the opportunity to stop the consultation at any time and seek feedback from the patient and from other workshop participants. And Prof Dunn will provide insights from the relevant literature to help us along the path.

Click here for more information on this workshop.

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