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Psychological challenges for the oncology clinician who has to break bad news
Title of the book
New challenges in communication with cancer patients
Address of publication
Work-related stress of the oncology clinician is not only due to heavy clinical and administrative duties, but also arises when breaking bad news. However, there is important interindividual variation in stress levels during patient encounters, mainly due to the significance the situation represents for the oncologist. A reflection on his own development, his professional identity, and ways of dealing with the patient's suffering can reduce his levels of stress and distress and prevent burnout and other psychiatric disturbances. This chapter summarizes the psychological challenges the oncology clinician is facing when he announces the diagnosis of cancer, deals with the deception of relapse, discusses the transition to palliative care, copes with progression of the disease and uncertainty, and cares for the dying who is facing the unknown. Ways of refiecting on and dealing with these situations from a psychological and communicational perspective are described and illustrated by case vignettes.
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