GPs can make a "huge difference" to bereaved families when they receive the correct training, research has suggested.
According to the Dying Matters Coalition, patients' end-of-life care can be improved if doctors are encouraged to initiate talks with them.
Research found that 60%, of the 59 GPs questioned in England, lacked confidence to begin conversations about death; however, this figure soared to 86% saying they felt confident or very confident to discuss the subject after undertaking training and support.
The training involved informing doctors about how to discuss the best care options available to patients at the end of life, place of death and how to broach the subject with young people.
Professor Mayur Lakhani, chairman of Dying Matters and a practising GP, said: "The GP is often the first port of call for people seeking reassurance and advice on discussing end-of-life preferences.
"Around 500,000 people die in England each year. Dying badly can lead to unnecessary anxiety, guilt and depression amongst those left behind but this study has shown that with the right training and materials GPs can make a huge difference."
Before the training, doctors showed signs of concern that patients would dismiss the conversation or get upset or distressed. But the study showed that the majority of patients – 90% – kept the conversation going once it had been brought up by their GP.
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