Patient reports of their communication experiences during cancer care could increase understanding of the communication process, stimulate improvements, inform interventions, and provide a basis for evaluating changes in communication practices.
Patient-centered communication is critical to quality cancer care. Effective communication can help patients and family members cope with cancer, make informed decisions, and effectively manage their care; suboptimal communication can contribute to care breakdowns and undermine clinician-patient relationships. The study purpose was to explore stakeholders' views on the feasibility and acceptability of collecting self-reported patient and family perceptions of communication experiences while receiving cancer care. The results were intended to inform the design, development, and implementation of a structured and generalizable patient-level reporting system.
This was a formative, qualitative study that used semistructured interviews with cancer patients, family members, clinicians, and leaders of health care organizations. The constant comparative method was used to identify major themes in the interview transcripts.
A total of 106 stakeholders were interviewed. Thematic saturation was achieved. All stakeholders recognized the importance of communication and endorsed efforts to improve communication during cancer care. Patients, clinicians, and leaders expressed concerns about the potential consequences of reports of suboptimal communication experiences, such as damage to the clinician-patient relationship, and the need for effective improvement strategies. Patients and family members would report good communication experiences in order to encourage such practices. Practical and logistic issues were identified.
Patient reports of their communication experiences during cancer care could increase understanding of the communication process, stimulate improvements, inform interventions, and provide a basis for evaluating changes in communication practices. This qualitative study provides a foundation for the design and pilot testing of such a patient reporting system.