Purpose: Breaking bad news (BBN) is a vital part of oncology practice. We conducted this study to assess an abbreviated PENS protocol [Patient preference, Explanation, Next appointment, and Support] for BBN in oncology outpatient (OP) settings. Methods: This observational study was conducted in a university teaching hospital, including cancer patients who were unaware of their condition and willing to discuss their disease status. The duration of BBN was the primary outcome. After the BBN session, patients filled a validated questionnaire; response scores of ≤ 13 were classified as content with BBN. Results: Fifty patients (mean age 53.7 years, range 28–76) were included in the study. The average duration of BBN was 6.1 (range 2–11) min. Assessed by the response score sum, 43 (86%) patients were satisfied with BBN. Only three (6%) of the discontented patients felt that the BBN duration was too short. Most (94%) of patients reported that they understood the information imparted during the BBN session. After the session, 36 (72%) patients admitted to either feeling the same or reassured compared to before the session. The oncologists also were comfortable with PENS. Conclusions: The PENS approach is a practical method for BBN, especially when the oncologists have higher OP workloads. More extensive trials are required to validate the protocol in other settings. Trial registration: Clinical Trial Registry of India (CTRI/2021/07/034707).

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology


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