I’m afraid it’s rather bad news

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Every year more and more people get diagnosed with advanced forms of cancer or other incurable diseases. And medical experts expect this figure to steadily rise over the coming decades.

Such a diagnosis has a huge impact on a patient’s life, and it is up to medical professionals to deliver them the bad news and to continue conversations during the ensuing illness trajectory. But are they properly equipped to deal with this difficult task?

Tonight we will discuss the future of the bad news conversation. What do patients and their families need from their doctors? Is it better to be as transparent as possible about disease diagnosis and prognosis, or does this depend on the individual context? And is there even a good way to tell someone that they are dying? In this talk we will explore these questions further with the help and personal experiences of doctors, patients and other experts.

This program is made in collaboration with Dr. Liesbeth van Vliet and Dr. Annemarie Samuels.

Liesbeth van Vliet works as a Dutch Cancer Society Young Investigator/Assistant Professor at the Department of Health, Medical and Neuropsychology at Leiden University. She studies how communication can heal and harm when patients are confronted with a serious, life-threatening illness. Liesbeth was a NIAS-KNAW 2019/2020 Fellow.

Annemarie Samuels is Associate Professor at the Leiden Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology. Annemarie is Principal Investigator of the ERC project “Globalizing Palliative Care? A Multi-sited Ethnographic Study of Practices, Policies and Discourses of Care at the End of Life. 


Anthony BackCo-director UW Center for Excellence in Palliative Care
Anne Rios Principal Investigator Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology
Jonathan KoffmanReader in Palliative Care King’s College London
Marike de MeijHead of Palliative Care OLVG Amsterdam
Eveliene Manten-HorstNationaal AYA ‘Jong & Kanker’​ Zorgnetwerk