Background: Breaking bad news (BBN) to patients and their relatives is a complex and stressful task. The ideal structure, training methods and assessment instruments best used to teach and assess BBN for anesthesiology residents remain unclear. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an education intervention for BBN based on immersive experiences with a high fidelity simulator and role-play with standardized patients (SPs). A secondary purpose is to gather validity evidence to support the use of a GRIEV_ING instrument to assess BBN skills.
Methods: The communication skills for BBN of 16 residents were assessed via videotaped SP encounters at baseline and immediately post-intervention. Residents' perceptions about their ability and comfort for BBN were collected using pre and post workshop surveys.
Results: Posttest scores were significantly higher than the pretest scores for the GRIEV_ING checklist, as well as on the communication global rating. The GRIEV_ING checklist had acceptable inter-rater and internal-consistency reliabilities. Performance was not related to years of training, or previous BBN experience.
Conclusion: Anesthesiology residents' communication skills when BBN in relation to a critical incident may be improved with educational interventions based on immersive experiences with a high fidelity simulator and role-play with SPs.
Keywords: Anesthesiology residents; Breaking bad news; Simulation based education.