​What Emotional Support Patients Want

After breaking bad news, patients desired their health care professionals to:

  • use supportive expressions to relieve their distress
  • allow patients to express emotions
  • reassure them

Research shows that patients want their health providers to:

  • imagine themselves in their situation
  • speak gently and softly
  • talk in a way that inspires hope, and without touching or hugging (Some like it, but others don’t)


Respond to Distress Using the NURSE Technique

The acronym NURSE refers to:

Naming: “I can see this is not what you expected to hear”

Understanding: “I can only imagine how you may be feeling right now. Is there anything you want to talk about?”

Respecting: “You have shown a lot of courage through all this.”

Supporting: “I will be here with you through this.”

Exploring: “Tell me more about what is affecting you.” or “Tell me more about what upsets/scares you the most”.

If you are not sure why they are upset, ask:

  • "What were you thinking about just now?"
  • "Can you help me understand what made you cry just now?"
  • "What’s going through your mind as we talk?"
Last reviewed: 1/28/2021
Last modified: 1/29/2021 4:36 AM