Personal, Substantial Diagnosis Talk Preferred by Patients

Cancer patients more satisfied when diagnosis revealed in person, treatment options discussed
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, July 8 (HealthDay News) -- Cancer patient satisfaction scores are higher when physicians disclose their cancer diagnoses in person, in a personal setting, and spend a substantial amount of time discussing the diagnosis and treatment options, according to research published online July 6 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

William D. Figg, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues surveyed 460 cancer patients treated at the NIH's Clinical Center in Bethesda about their diagnosis discussion with their physician. Satisfaction scores were calculated (0 to 100 points).

The researchers found that 54 percent of 437 respondents said they were told of their diagnosis in person in the physician's office, 18 percent were informed by telephone, and 28 percent in a hospital setting. Fifty-three percent said the conversation lasted more than 10 minutes and 44 percent said 10 minutes or less (5 percent did not remember). Thirty-one percent who clearly remembered said treatment wasn't discussed. Higher mean satisfaction scores were associated with in-person notification compared to telephone notification (68.2 versus 47.2), a personal/private rather than impersonal/public setting (68.9 versus 55.7), discussions longer than 10 minutes versus shorter (73.5 versus 54.1), and discussion of treatment options rather than omission (72.0 versus 50.7).

"Based on the results of this study, we suggest that physicians revealing a cancer diagnosis or bad news disclose the information in a personal setting, discussing the diagnosis and possible treatment options for an extended period of time whenever possible," the authors write.

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