Keeping it real: Exploring an interdisciplinary breaking bad news role-play as an integrative learning opportunity.

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Catherine Sweeney
Eleanor O'Sullivan
Marian McCarthy


Palliative care is a complex area of healthcare that is best delivered by an interdisciplinary team approach. Breaking bad news is an inherent part of caring for people with life-limiting conditions. The purpose of this study was to explore an interdisciplinary breaking bad news role-play in a palliative care module. The participants were undergraduate medical and nursing students. Qualitative data from focus groups, student and facilitator feedback and a role-play recording were thematically analysed. The findings revealed that the role-play led to increased understanding of and changes in attitudes towards key palliative care principles, interdisciplinary teamwork, and communication of bad news. There was evidence of increased self-awareness. The findings suggest that the interdisciplinary breaking bad news role-play was a rich integrative learning experience that was valued by students.


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Sweeney, C., O’Sullivan, E., & McCarthy, M. (2015). Keeping it real: Exploring an interdisciplinary breaking bad news role-play as an integrative learning opportunity. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 15(2), 14–32.


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