Bad news: meanings attributed in neonatal/pediatric care practices

Abstract An exploratory, descriptive and qualitative study was conducted with nine health professionals working in the areas of medicine and nursing in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care unit of a teaching hospital located in the countryside of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil. The objective was to identify the meanings attributed to the communication of bad news, articulating them with professional practice and the manifested feelings andemotions that this task awakens in health professionals. The data were collected in a semi structured interview and studied with content analysis. Death was found to be the main meaning attributed to bad news. Standardized protocols or routines in the practice of reporting bad news were not observed. The significant degree of suffering of health professionals performing this occupational practice was evident. The data of the present study emphasize the importance of problematizing and reflecting on this theme in the hospital environment.