Communication Factors Aid Cancer Diagnosis Disclosure

(HealthDay News) – Ensuring disclosure of a gynecological cancer diagnosis takes place in a private setting and that the conversation lasts for >10 minutes improves patient satisfaction, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Lindsay M. Kuroki, MD, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues surveyed 100 gynecologic oncology patients (between December 2011 and September 2012) using an 83-item tool based on evaluated patient-centered factors, physician behavior and communication skills, and environmental factors.

The researchers found that 24% of patients were notified of their diagnosis by phone, 60% in the physician’s office, and 16% in the hospital. Results were reported by either an obstetrician-gynecologist (58%), gynecologic oncologist (26%), primary care physician (8%), or other (8%). A support person was present for 52% of patients. Face-to-face disclosure, a private setting, and duration of the encounter of >10 minutes were associated with higher patient satisfaction scores. When adjusting for other factors, both physician communication skills and patient-centered factors (including perception of physician sensitivity and empathy, opportunities to ask questions and express emotion, and setting the pace of conversation) were also associated with higher patient satisfaction.

“Effective physician communication skills and patient-centered factors resulted in higher patient satisfaction with the gynecologic cancer diagnosis disclosure experience,” the authors write.

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