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Breaking bad news in ethnic settings: Perspectives of patients and families in northern Sri Lanka
journal contributionposted on 2021-11-16, 00:24 authored by Chrishanthi Rajasooriyar, Jennifer KellyJennifer Kelly, Thanikai Sivakumar, Gowcikan Navanesan, Shahini Nadarasa, Madona H Sriskandarajah, Sabe Sabesan
PURPOSE: The discussion of a cancer diagnosis and prognosis often is difficult. This study explored the expectations of Tamil-speaking patients with cancer and their families with respect to receiving their cancer diagnosis in northern Sri Lanka. METHODS: This exploratory, descriptive, qualitative study used semistructured interviews. RESULTS: Thematic analysis identified two major themes: communication and information seeking. The findings illustrate a discrepancy between patient preference for direct disclosure of the diagnosis and that of families. Ninety-five percent of patients wanted medical staff to disclose their cancer diagnosis, whereas only 45% of family members believed that the diagnosis should be disclosed to the patient rather than to the family. CONCLUSION: Although patients and their family members' views and expectations of the disclosure of diagnosis and prognosis differ, a majority of patients want to be told directly about their diagnosis rather than to learn of it from a relative. The findings are similar to the literature on other ethnic groups from Sri Lanka and studies from English-speaking developed countries. Therefore, the main questions are how to educate families and physicians about the benefits of open disclosure to patients and how to change culture. Results of this study along with a previous study call for the development of strategies and guidelines to improve societal views, educate patients and families, and train health professionals in the area of breaking bad news and discussing prognosis in the Sri Lankan setting.
Number of Pages7
PublisherAmerican Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)
Publisher LicenseCC BY
Full Text URL
Additional RightsCC BY 4.0
External Author AffiliationsJaffna Teaching Hospital; Tellipalai Trail Cancer Hospital, Jaffna; National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Teaching Hospital, Karapitiya, Sri Lanka, Townsville Hospital and Heath Service; James Cook University; The Townsville Hospital, Townsville, Queensland