How communication between cancer patients and their specialists affect the quality and cost of cancer care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Communication in cancer care is multidimensional and may affect patient treatment decision-making and quality of life. This study examined cancer patients’ perceptions of the communication with their cancer specialists and explored its impact on the care they received and the financial burden they experienced. Methods: Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 20 rural and 20 outer metropolitan Western Australians diagnosed with breast, lung, prostate or colorectal cancer. Thematic analysis using a phenomenological approach was undertaken to derive key themes regarding the communication experiences of the participants. Results: Four main themes emerged: information context, communication about treatment options and treatment providers, communication about costs of treatment and impact of communication on continuity of care. The quality of the communication experienced by participants was variable and in many cases sub-optimal. This affected their ability to undertake well-informed decisions regarding treatment and providers and led to substantial out-of-pocket expenses for several participants. Whilst participants differed in their information needs and expectations, most participants trusted clinicians’ treatment recommendations. Conclusions: Our results raise concerns about the quality of communication cancer patients receive during treatment and the repercussions for their treatment decisions and out-of-pocket expenses. Clear treatment and cost communication could empower patients in choosing treatment and providers. However, these findings suggest patients must remain vigilant during consultations and discuss available treatment pathways and their financial dimension to avoid costly treatments or missing out on available financial aid.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2019

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