Core competencies in palliative care for surgeons: Interpersonal and communication skills

Ciaraán T. Bradley, Karen J. Brasel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Surgeons are an important part of the multidisciplinary approach to the care of terminally ill and dying patients. Some surgical residencies have recognized the need to incorporate palliative care-related topics into graduate surgical education. One core competency of utmost importance to palliative care is the effective use of interpersonal and communication skills. Four areas of surgical practice are identified where these communication skills are important: during preoperative counseling, when presenting a devastating diagnosis or poor prognosis, when discussing error, and when discussing death. Case examples and recommendations for the appropriate words and actions to use in these scenarios are offered. It is important for both surgeons in practice and those in training to achieve proficiency with these communication skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-507
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Palliative care
  • Preoperative counseling
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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