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Eur J Cancer. 1997 May;33(6):878-82.

Disclosing the cancer diagnosis: the patients' experiences.

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  • 1Department of Behavioural Sciences in Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway.


497 Norwegian cancer patients (346 females, 151 males, mean age = 56 years (S.D. = 12)), admitted to a cancer rehabilitation centre, were surveyed on how they were told their diagnosis. Predictors of general satisfaction with the information were assessed. 43% of the subjects were informed by phone, letter or in the corridor/on the round and estimated that the information was presented in less than 5 minutes. Satisfaction with the information was predicted by perceiving the physicians as personally interested (B = 0.528, P < 0.001), comprehending the information (B = 0.245, P < 0.001), being informed in the physicians' offices (B = 0.338, P < 0.001), being informed by physicians at oncological departments (B = 0.278, P = 0.01) and increasing time spent on the disclosure (B = 0.140, P = 0.01). Other aspects of physician-patient communication than the pure presentation of valid information is highly valued by the patients. However, a substantial proportion of physicians present the cancer diagnosis in such a manner that the possibility of engaging in conversation about the diagnosis and the effect upon the patient is very limited. The findings call for remedial attention to the subject and improvement in performance.

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