Breast Cancer Treatment in Older Women: Impact of the Patient-Physician Interaction

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES

To assess the impact of the patient-physician interaction on breast cancer care in older women.

DESIGN

Cross-sectional survey.

SETTING

Los Angeles County, California.

PARTICIPANTS

Two hundred twenty-two consecutively identified breast cancer patients aged 55 and older who were within 6 months of breast cancer diagnosis and/or 1 month posttreatment.

MEASUREMENTS

Dependent variables were patient breast cancer knowledge, treatment delay, and receipt of breast-conserving surgery (BCS). Key independent variables were five dimensions of the patient-physician interaction by patient report, including physician provision of tangible and interactive informational support, physician provision of emotional support, physician participatory decision-making style, and patient perceived self-efficacy in the patient-physician interaction. Age and ethnicity were additional important independent variables.

RESULTS

In multiple logistic regression models, only physician interactive informational support had significant relationships with all three dependent variables, controlling for a wide range of patient sociodemographic and case-mix characteristics, visit length, number of physicians seen, social support, and physician sociodemographic and practice characteristics. Specifically, informational support positively predicted patient breast cancer knowledge (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.18, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.00–1.38), negatively predicted treatment delays (AOR = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.67–0.94), and positively predicted receipt of BCS (AOR = 1.29, 95% CI = 1.07–1.56). Age and ethnicity were not significant predictors in these models.

CONCLUSION

One specific domain of the patient-physician interaction, interactive informational support, may provide an avenue to ensure adequate breast cancer knowledge for patient treatment decision-making, decrease treatment delay, and increase rates of BCS for older breast cancer patients, thereby potentially mitigating known healthcare disparities in this vulnerable population of breast cancer patients.

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