Doctor-patient communication and satisfaction with care in oncology

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Abstract

Purpose of review

This review summarises current knowledge on the impact on patient satisfaction of initiatives undertaken to enhance the communication between doctors and their patients in oncology.

Recent findings

Recent studies have assessed the effectiveness of different approaches aimed at improving doctor-patient communication in oncology. These have been assessed on outcomes related to the patient (e.g., anxiety, quality of life, medical knowledge, satisfaction) or to the doctor (e.g., communication behaviour, attitudes). Patient satisfaction has been recognised as a particularly relevant outcome, and a positive effect of recent initiatives to improve the interaction between cancer patients and their doctors on patient satisfaction has been suggested.

Summary

To better respond to cancer patients' health care needs, various strategies focusing on doctor-patient communication have been developed. Addressing patients' overall needs and sharing complex information in an emotionally charged context and under time constraints is a daily challenge for the oncology clinician, resulting often in cancer patients' dissatisfaction. Recent interventions elaborated to facilitate doctor-patient communication in oncology focus on patients, such as handing out of videos or written preparatory information; on doctors, such as patients' self-rating feedback to doctors or communication skills trainings; or on both, such as the audiotaping of the consultation or the provision of decision aids. Although these strategies offer promising results, further research should be implemented to assess their appropriateness across sociocultural contexts and their long-term effectiveness in clinical practice.

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