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J Clin Oncol. 2001 Apr 1;19(7):2049-56.

Breaking bad news about cancer: patients' preferences for communication.

Author information

  • 1Department of Behavioral Science, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA. pparker@mdanderson.org

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The goal of this study was to assess patients' preferences regarding the way in which physicians deliver news about their cancer diagnosis and management.

PATIENTS AND METHODS:

A sample of 351 patients with a variety of cancers completed a measure assessing their preferences for how they would like to be told news about their cancer. Patients rated characteristics of the context and content of the conversation as well as physician characteristics.

RESULTS:

Factor analysis indicated that patients' preferences for how they would like to be told news regarding their cancer can be grouped into the following three categories: (1) content (what and how much information is told); (2) facilitation (setting and context variables); and (3) support (emotional support during the interaction). Women (P =.02) and patients with higher education (P =.05) had significantly higher scores on the Content scale, women (P =.02) had higher scores on the Support scale, and younger patients (P =.001) and those with more education (P =.02) had higher scores on the Message Facilitation scale. Medical variables were not associated with patients' ratings of the importance of the three subscales.

CONCLUSION:

Patients rated items addressing the message content as most important, though the supportive and facilitative dimensions were also rated highly. Understanding what is important to patients when told news about their cancer provides valuable information that may help refine how this challenging task is best performed.

PMID:
11283138
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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