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Patient Educ Couns. 2006 Oct;63(1-2):55-63. Epub 2006 Apr 27.

Enhancing patient participation by training radiation oncologists.

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Department of Medical Psychology, 840 Medical Psychology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, P.O. Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands.



Several studies have shown that patients' active participation to their medical interaction is beneficial for their information processing and their quality of life. Unfortunately, cancer patients often act rather passively in contact with their oncologists. We investigated whether cancer patients' participation in radiation therapy consultations could be enhanced by specific communicative behaviours of the radiation oncologists (ROs).


Eight ROs and 160 patients participated; 80 patients in the pre training group and 80 patients in the post training group. The ROs were trained to use specific communicative behaviours that are supposed to encourage patient participation. In the training special attention was paid to communicative requirements in the first minutes of the consultation. The communicative behaviours of the ROs and the cancer patients were measured by the Roter Interaction Analysis System, and compared before and after the RO training.


From the start throughout the entire consultation, patients in the post training group participated more in interactions than patients in the pre training group: they discussed more psychosocial issues, expressed more concerns and contributed more to decision-making.


Cancer patients' participation in the initial radiation oncology consultations can be increased by training of ROs.


The results suggest that doctors working with cancer patients should receive communication training and feedback on a regular base.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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