Continuing Education

Breaking bad news in veterinary medicine: what is the best approach?

  • A. Decloedt


Bad news can be defined as any news which negatively affects the client’s future perspective. Bad news conversations are frequent in veterinary medicine, and the way these are conducted has a major impact on the veterinarian-client relationship. In human medicine, and more recently also in veterinary medicine, several strategies have been formulated for delivering bad news in order to reduce stress and enhance satisfaction for both the veterinarian and the client. Five essential elements can be found in the different models for these challenging interactions. First, the conversation should be prepared ahead if possible, and an appropriate setting for the conversation should be created. Next, the client’s perspective about his animal’s disease is explored, followed by the bad news message itself in short, understandable pieces, while responding empathically to emotions, which may arise. Further information and planning is then provided in small chunks when the client is ready for this.

How to Cite:

Decloedt, A., (2020) “Breaking bad news in veterinary medicine: what is the best approach?”, Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift 89(2), 116-123. doi:

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Published on
27 Apr 2020
Peer Reviewed