Understanding the influences and impact of patient-clinician communication in cancer care.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Patient-clinician communication is thought to be central to care outcomes, but when and how communication affects patient outcomes is not well understood.

OBJECTIVE

We propose a conceptual model and classification framework upon which the empirical evidence base for the impact of patient-clinician communication can be summarized and further built.

DESIGN

We use the proposed model and framework to summarize findings from two recent systematic reviews, one evaluating the use of shared decision making (SDM) on cancer care outcomes and the other evaluating the role of physician recommendation in cancer screening use.

KEY RESULTS

Using this approach, we identified clusters of studies with positive findings, including those relying on the measurement of SDM from the patients' perspective and affective-cognitive outcomes, particularly in the context of surgical treatment decision making. We also identify important gaps in the literature, including the role of SDM in post-surgical treatment and end-of-life care decisions, and those specifying particular physician communication strategies when recommending cancer screening.

CONCLUSIONS

Transparent linkages between key conceptual domains and the influence of methodological approaches on observed patient outcomes are needed to advance our understanding of how and when patient-clinician communication influences patient outcomes. The proposed conceptual model and classification framework can be used to facilitate the translation of empirical evidence into practice and to identify critical gaps in knowledge regarding how and when patient-clinician communication impacts care outcomes in the context of cancer and health care more broadly.

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