Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why is it so hard to communicate with cancer patients?

Carolyn D. Prouty and a team of researchers from Seattle, WA, Worcester, MA and Atlanta, GA just published an analysis of provider-patient communication in cancer care. Using focus group methods, they sorted out the causes of communication breakdown as seen by 59 providers. Some of the issues seem fundamental to the setting - patients are overwhelmed and scared - but some seem amenable to systematic interventions. For instance, these include inadequate time to meet with patients, failure of all the providers to agree on what the message to patients ought to be, and payment systems that undervalue communication. The next steps after this good work, of course, are to design and test some systematic interventions. 

Prouty CD, Mazor KM, Greene SM, Roblin DW, Firneno CL, Lemay CA, Robinson BE, Gallagher TH. Providers' Perceptions of Communication Breakdowns in Cancer Care. J Gen Intern Med. 2014 Mar 6. [Epub ahead of print]

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