A long-term evaluation of a training program on breaking bad news in pediatric neurosurgery: a pilot study

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Breaking bad news is a difficult task in medical practice. Several breaking-bad-news training programs have been proposed. However, long-term results of such training have rarely been investigated. The aim of this study was to compare the short- and long-term evaluations by young neurosurgeons of a training program for breaking bad news to patients and their parents.


Between 2012 and 2015, pediatric neurosurgery residents participated in a training day on breaking bad news in pediatric neurosurgery with professional actors. A personal debriefing, followed by a theoretical session, completed the training. Immediate feedback was evaluated through a survey administered at the end of the day. Long-term results were explored via an online form sent at least 3 years after the training completion.


Seventeen participants from 9 different countries were interviewed. Their immediate feedback confirmed their interest. For 71% of them, the program was very interesting, and 77% were extremely satisfied or very satisfied. All trainees wanted more training sessions. At a mean of 4.5 years of follow-up (range 3–6 years), 71% of the trainees fully remembered the session. Most of them (86%) reported a positive impact of the training on their career. Only 21% had another training session on breaking bad news during their residency. At long-term analysis, fewer trainees considered the duration of the training to have been sufficient (p = 0.044).


Breaking-bad-news training has a positive long-term educational impact even several years later. Such a training program should be implemented into pediatric neurosurgery residency.

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Federico Di Rocco: Hôpital Femme Mère Enfant, Hospices Civiles de Lyon and University Claude Bernard Lyon 1, Bron Cedex, France. federico.dirocco@chu-lyon.fr.INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online March 13, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2019.12.PEDS19554.Disclosures The authors report no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.


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