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Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients: Balancing Honesty with Empathy and Hope Paperback – March 2, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0521706186 ISBN-10: 0521706181 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (March 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521706181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521706186
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Advance Praise for Mastering Communication: "Clear, concise, and brimming with useful advice, Mastering Communication With Seriously Ill Patients is one of those rare books that manages to be both eminently practical and thoroughly enjoyable. Written by three of the most important figures in the field of doctor-patient communication, this book is a must-read for clinicians who care not only for the seriously ill but for any patient." - Pauline Chen, author of Final Exam (Knopf) and "Doctor and Patient" columnist for the New York Times

"This is a superbly practical and helpful book. It is full of valuable and wise insights into some difficult conversations with clear analyses of the problems and realistic practical examples of how to solve them. I thoroughly recommend it." -- Robert Buckman MD, author of How to Break Bad News

"This book is a tour de force! It takes on the most difficult and profound aspects of being a doctor- but it's practical, concise, real -- you can tell it is written by practicing clinicians. I could not put it down and kept thinking about all the conversations I've had with patients and families that could have gone better. Doctors in training now- and all of us-- are lucky- we have this book." - Diane Meier MD, Director of the Center to Advance Palliative Care, MacArthur Fellow

"A practical guide to essential skills for effective medical care, this book makes better lives for patients and for their doctors." - Christine Cassel MD, President, American Board of Internal Medicine

"This is a wonderful, short primer on the art and science of medical communication that should be required reading for any practicing physician, young or old. This book will likely not only make the reader a better doctor, but will also increase the satisfaction they derive from their practice." - Frederick Appelbaum MD, Director of Clinical Research, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

"Medical students need to read [this book] as they begin their first encounters with patients and then they need to reread it as interns and residents when they find themselves in challenging clinical situations that have not gone well. Fellows in oncology, who are commonly confronted by these everyday conversations, can benefit from this supportive and informative text... The ten chapters have structured outlines and describe communication skills for a specific encounter, like talking about serious news or discussing evidence for making treatment decisions or for saying goodbye. Through case examples and analysis of patient encounters, the authors' experience combined with available research data on how to communicate is described in a step by step format with techniques and practice parameters that can be readily integrated into one's own daily practice... The authors are skilled clinicians who have worked to hone their own communication skills through educational programs, clinical expertise and research. They bring this accumulated knowledge and experience to this unique and formative text. In a clear, concise, straight forward style, they discuss the communication skills necessary to master the care of the seriously ill patient." - Kathleen Foley MD, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

"Although physicians are the intended audience, anyone in the helping professions who interacts with the seriously ill could benefit from this book....This useful step-by-step guide tailors the message of developing good communication to some of the most difficult conversations a physician will ever have." - Doody's Review Service

Book Description

This book defines the specific communication tasks involved in talking with patients with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Topics include delivering bad news, transition to palliative care, discussing goals of advance-care planning and do-not-resuscitate orders, existential and spiritual issues, family conferences, medical futility, and other conflicts at the end of life.

More About the Author

Anthony Back MD is a medical oncologist and palliative medicine physician. He practices at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (www.seattlecca.org) and does research at the University of Washington (www.uw.edu) and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (www.fhcrc.org). His professional work is about cultivating healers in high-tech medicine, and many resources from his work are collected on www.oncotalk.info, including a set of videos that illustrate skills described in his book Mastering Communication with Seriously Ill Patients. In 2010, he was awarded the Pathfinder in Palliative Care by the American Cancer Society.

Customer Reviews

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This text is highly relevant, well structured, easy to access, and a pleasure to read.
Amazon Customer
I was fortunate enough to attend a communication skills training retreat with the authors and it changed the way I practice medicine.
PallDoc
As a hospital chaplain, I wish EVERY doctor would read this book and put into practice its excellent techniques.
L. K. Brewer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By NYC Doc on August 3, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have been a palliative care physician for 5 years now, and I was amazed at how much this book taught me. I appreciate its straightforward language and found that I was learning new communication techniques from the very first page (yes, really!). I think this book is a great resource for any clinician regardless of their level of expertise, experience, or training. From the novice to the expert - from medical student to attending physician - and for every discipline - this book should be required reading for anyone who deals with patients with serious illness and their families.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By PallDoc on August 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was fortunate enough to attend a communication skills training retreat with the authors and it changed the way I practice medicine. I was moved to write this review because the book so effectively distills their years of experience as clinicians and educators into a readable and practical format. It serves as an ideal refresher and reference for those who have taken part in their workshops. More importantly, though, the text is accessible enough that it could be used by anyone of any discipline who deals with seriously ill patients, even if you never thought of communication skills as something that could be taught! Written in the style of "Difficult Conversations" and "Getting to Yes" the authors have structured the book to make it a quick, high yield read. They use tables to highlight "what happened" in a conversation and "what we can learn" then end each section with "the bottom line" and a few tips to help you in "maximizing your learning." This material made me a much better communicator which has not only helped my patients but has also made my practice infinitely more fulfilling. This book offers the same opportunity to anyone who reads it which I find very exciting for the future of medicine. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ann Kellogg on January 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Communicating serious news and dealing with end-of-life issues are poorly taught in medical school, but something that is constantly present in practice. This book is a quick read, but a great resource in how to have those discussions go well. As we are constantly dealing with death, we easily forget how new, personal and foreign a serious situation is to the individual patient we see. This book walks through discussions about breaking serious news, giving a prognosis, to discussing code status while being mindful of where the patient is at. I can't advocate this enough as needing to be a book in every doctor's library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Juan Jaramillo on April 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
Excellent book !! I did a Psychiatry Fellowship at Sloan-Kettering, and worked a few years ago in the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. And I found this short but rich book to be full of wisdom and practical advice. The many different kinds of difficult situations that may arise when taking care of cancer patients, can be more easily navigated by anyone that reads this book. A solid contribution to the field. The website of the authors, depts.washington.edu/oncotalk/ is also a terrific contribution, easily accessible with no need to register or pay. It has many videos, where senior Oncologists show the "how to" of conversing with patients about difficult topics such as prognosis, transition to end of life care, etc.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 14, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Provided ver practical advice and road maps to follow depending on the situation.
Excellent resource for anyone who talks to patients, no matter what their status
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Moynard on March 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This excellent resource should be required reading for every medical student and all those working in the fields of primary care, oncology, hospice and palliative care. It teaches the fundamentals of good communication, which includes exercises for listening, a concept almost foreign in our current healthcare culture where providers are pressured to see more patients in less time. This is my new go-to reference and is currently at the top of my recommended reads.
Thank you Drs Back, Arnold and Tulsky.
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