Discussing Serious News: Teaching Communication Skills Through Role Play With Bereaved Parents

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The ability to communicate serious news to patients and families in a caring and compassionate way is a critical skill for physicians. This study explores the impact of a novel communication skills workshop that included bereaved parents in role play on pediatric residents’ confidence to communicate serious news.


Following the workshop, pediatric residents were surveyed to assess their perceived efficacy of the educational intervention. The survey included anchored response and open-ended questions to yield qualitative and quantitative results.


After completing the workshop, residents’ confidence in discussing goals, managing emotions, and expressing empathy all increased significantly. Residents reported that the inclusion of bereaved parents was beneficial since it made the experience more realistic. In addition, they believed their ability to communicate with patients and families had improved.


Including bereaved parents in this communication skills workshop improved the residents’ confidence in discussing serious topics and enhanced the reality of the experience.

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