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Adapting a communication coaching intervention for obstetric sonographers delivering unexpected news: A qualitative study

Kaur, E., Arezina, J., Bryant, L. , Pollak, K. I., Harrison, G. ORCID: 0000-0003-2795-8190, Atik, R. B., Coates, J., Hardicre, N. K., Sicklen, R., Horwood, K., Lardner, T., Arnold, J., Wallace, R. & Johnson, J. (2023). Adapting a communication coaching intervention for obstetric sonographers delivering unexpected news: A qualitative study. Ultrasound, 31(4), pp. 273-283. doi: 10.1177/1742271x221147860


Despite widespread recognition that communicating unexpected news during obstetric ultrasound examinations is challenging, there is a dearth of research investigating how to teach evidence-based communication to sonographers. Communication Coaching is a supportive, positive method that has previously been associated with improvements in communication, patient satisfaction, and reduced burnout in clinicians. However, to date, no study has coached sonographers. This study explored stakeholders’ views on a proposed Communication Coaching intervention and used these data to adapt the intervention for use with qualified obstetric sonographers.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with people who have a vested interest in unexpected news delivery and thematic analysis was conducted on the data. Eight sonographers, six people with lived experience of receiving unexpected news and six representatives from third-sector organisations who support expectant parents were recruited (18 women; 2 men, aged between 21 and 75 years).

Participants viewed the planned Communication Coaching intervention favourably and suggested adaptations. The two main themes were (1) the practicalities of coaching, and (2) content. The first theme had four subthemes: (a) brief and flexible structure, (b) online modality, (c) sensitive and positive coach and (d) organisational awareness. The second theme had three subthemes: (a) specific language and behaviour recommendations, (b) adaptable to different service-users and situations and (c) confer relevant emotional skills and techniques.

Communication Coaching could be a feasible and acceptable intervention for qualified sonographers if specific, limited adaptations are made as recommended by the stakeholders. Further evaluation of the intervention in practice is necessary.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2023. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Publisher Keywords: Communication; breaking bad news; ultrasound; burnout; pregnancy; workforce
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
R Medicine > RG Gynecology and obstetrics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
SWORD Depositor:
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