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David Browning, MSW, BC, and Elaine C. Meyer, PhD, RN, Brooklyn, NY: Icarus Films/Fanlight Productions,, 2008, 23 minutes, ISBN 1-57295-506-6, Color; $199

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* Reviewed by:


Ellen Rice Tichich, BA, RN


Clinical Nurse Educator


Northfield Hospital, Minnesota


This award-winning video brings viewers inside a workshop conducted at Children's Hospital Boston, where healthcare professionals from various disciplines and levels of experience work together to enhance conversation skills in a realistic and supportive environment. Specially trained actors portray the parents of 5-year-old "Billy," who is comatose after a near-drowning incident. In a lifelike reenactment, clinicians deliver the devastating news.


Peers and expert observers watch the scenario unfold via closed-circuit television. After the reenactment, participants and observers join in conference for reflection and discussion. Body language, eye contact, and verbal and paraverbal components, in addition to the actual dialogue, are evaluated for efficacy. Clinicians receive specific, constructive input from the actor/parents, parent advisors, staff members, and family practitioners.


The video is effective from many standpoints. The quality is flawless, allowing the viewer to concentrate fully on the content, which is emotionally gripping and professionally executed. Interviews with actual parents of seriously ill or injured children are interspersed throughout the film and provide balance to the more analytical/clinical workshop scenes. Their stories, raw and personal, underscore the need for clinicians skilled in communicating difficult news in a professional, empathic manner. The material is both well organized and comprehensive.


Although focused on difficult conversations in pediatric palliative care, this video is relevant, and its message is invaluable for clinicians desirous of improving their conversational skill and relational ability within any age group or situation.