For healthcare professionals only

Research Article

Couples facing death. II--Unsatisfactory communication.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981; 283 doi: (Published 24 October 1981) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1981;283:1098
  1. A Stedeford


    Forty-one couples facing the prospect of separation by death were interviewed about how the nature and prognosis of their illness had been discussed with them by their general practitioner hospital staff, and the staff of the continuing care unit to which they were admitted. Communication between husband and wife and how they coped with telling their parents and their children was also assessed. Treatment was given when they were anxious or dissatisfied about the quality of communication in any of these areas. The couples found hospital doctors least successful at communication. Almost all who were dissatisfied wanted more information, not less. The wish to protect dependent relatives conflicted with the wish to be open, making decisions very difficult. Considerable suffering is caused by poor communication, and much of this is avoidable.