Health care providers (HCPs) face difficult conversations regularly throughout their careers. These conversations can have profound effects on both the HCP and the patient or caregiver receiving the bad news. When delivered poorly, bad news can generate feelings of anger, fear, blame, and mistrust in the recipient. In contrast, breaking bad news well is associated with positive patient health outcomes and can help reduce provider burnout and increase resilience. Despite how common breaking bad news is, HCPs often report feeling unprepared and fear in anticipation of these conversations.


Email for more information about the Difficult Conversations in Health Literate Care course.

Program Details

The Difficult Conversations in Health Literate Care course aims to provide you with health literacy and clear communication strategies to support patients and families, including:

  • Negotiating a mutual agenda with patients at the outset of encounters
  • Eliciting questions from patients through a patient-centred approach
  • Avoiding using medical jargon in oral and written communication with patients, and defining unavoidable jargon in lay terms
  • ​Routinely using a "teach back" or "show me" technique to check for understanding and to correct misunderstandings
  • Taking a universal precautions approach to oral and written communication with patients

This blended course includes an online component and in-person practice opportunity.

Online Learning

The online component includes 4 modules:

  1. Health Literacy and Communication Strategies
  2. The Art and Science of Plain Language
  3. Seamlessness and Teams
  4. Resilience

In-Person Learning

The in-person session includes facilitated discussion and activities to reinforce online learning, a communication styles workshop and role play, customized simulations with standardized patient actors, and group debrief and reflection.

Last reviewed: 11/19/2019
Last modified: 9/16/2020 8:25 AM