‘Breaking Good News’: Neurologists' experiences of discussing SUDEP with patients in Scotland

Tom Nisbet*, Sue Turbull, Sharon Mulhern, Saif Razvi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Since the findings of a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) in 2010, clinicians working in Scotland have been advised to discuss the risk of Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP) with patients immediately or soon after a diagnosis of epilepsy is made. A thematic analysis was used to describe the experiences discussing SUDEP of 10 clinicians (six Consultant Neurologists and four Neurology Registrars) working in Scotland. Contrary to previous research, clinicians appear to be routinely discussing SUDEP in a standardized fashion with newly diagnosed patients and the FAI appears to have instigated this change in practice. Clinicians are ambivalent about the practice and whether this is a Breaking Bad News (BBN) experience. Clinicians appear to anticipate that patients will be anxious or distressed discussing SUDEP, despite their experiences that patients do not react this way. There are further concerns that the pressure to discuss SUDEP, as a result of the FAI, hinders effective communication of the SUDEP message. Implications for guideline development are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-79
Number of pages8
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Early online date12 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Breaking Bad News
  • epilepsy
  • neurology practice
  • qualitative
  • thematic analysis


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