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Leuk Res. 2009 Feb;33(2):263-70. doi: 10.1016/j.leukres.2008.06.019. Epub 2008 Jul 25.

The physician-patient relationship and quality of life: lessons from chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, United States.


We evaluated patients' satisfaction with the physician caring for them as part of an international web-based survey of quality of life (QOL) in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL; n=1482). Over half (55.9%) of patients thought about their diagnosis daily. Although >90% felt their doctor understood how their disease was progressing (i.e., stage, blood counts, nodes), <70% felt their physician understood how CLL affected their QOL (anxiety, worry, fatigue). Reported satisfaction with their physician in a variety of areas strongly related to patients' measured emotional and overall QOL (all p<0.001). Physician use of specific euphemistic phrases to characterize CLL (e.g., "CLL is the 'good' leukemia") was also associated with lower emotional QOL among patients (p<0.001). These effects on QOL remained (p<0.001) after adjustment for age, co-morbid health conditions, fatigue, and treatment status. The effectiveness with which physicians help patients adjust to the physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges of CLL appears to impact patient QOL.

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