Breaking bad news

This learning module has been accredited by the Royal College of Nursing and was last updated in 2016.

All modules are subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software.

Duration: 01:00:00 Type: CPD modules Level: Nursing students, Registered nurses


Clare Warnock, Practice development sister, Specialist Cancer Services, Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield.

Short description

Identifying and meeting the challenges of breaking bad news to patients or service users, their family members or loved ones.

Detailed description

This learning module is aimed at helping nurses identify and meet the challenges they face when giving bad news, for example about death or a life-limiting or poor prognosis, to patients or service users, their family members or their loved ones. The process of breaking bad news is discussed, as are the benefits of providing honest and accurate information.


Please note that information provided by RCNi Learning is not sufficient to ensure competence in the skill. Assessment of competence should take place in line with local practice. Practice should always align with local protocols and procedures, latest guidelines and any regulatory code. All modules should currently be viewed together with available national and local Covid-19 guidelines. For advice, go to