Dr Meisel on Patient-Reported Perceptions of Provider Communication in Breast Cancer Care

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Jane L. Meisel, MD, discusses patient-reported perceptions of patient-provider communication in cancer care.

Jane L. Meisel, MD, associate professor, Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, associate professor, Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Emory University School of Medicine, discusses findings from a study evaluating patient-reported perceptions of patient-provider communication in cancer care.

Meisel began by stating that investigators launched a comprehensive 55-question survey regarding the treatment experiences of patients with estrogen receptor–positive, HER2-negative metastatic breast cancer and categorized the outcomes of this survey into 2 distinct areas. As investigators sifted through survey responses and summarized the findings, 2 prominent themes emerged, one of which focused on the dynamics of conversations regarding adverse events (AEs), including how patients communicate, and their preferred communication methods, she explains. The goal of this survey was to enhance communication effectiveness, Meisel notes. Although most patients expressed feeling adequately prepared to manage treatment-related AEs, a smaller subset of patients reported not receiving optimal guidance on this matter, Meisel emphasizes. Some patients indicated they felt well informed about common AEs associated with their treatments but lacked information about rare yet serious AEs, she states. This discrepancy in shared information may stem from oncologists' reluctance to discuss potentially alarming topics with patients, Meisel adds. This finding underscores the importance of addressing rare yet serious AEs and ensuring patients understand why less emphasis is placed on them during AE education compared with more common AEs, according to Meisel.

Subsequently, the survey addressed communication topics and areas where patients desired further understanding, Meisel expands. Foremost among these was the desire for more extensive discussions on treatment options. Often, healthcare providers may recommend a particular treatment regimen based on disease progression without fully explaining to patients the rationale behind this choice or exploring alternative treatment options, she elucidates. Offering comprehensive explanations of treatment choices and their differences can empower patients by highlighting their range of options, Meisel states.

Another area of interest highlighted by patients was AEs, with a preference for additional written or visual resources about this topic, she reports. This finding suggests a desire for a potential shift toward a more information-centric communication strategy, which could benefit both patients and health care professionals, Meisel says. Moreover, patients expressed a desire for more information on treatment efficacy, including insights from clinical trials or real-world studies, she says. Additionally, patients valued patient testimonials and descriptions of AEs and their management, indicating a need for diverse information sources beyond those provided in traditional health caresettings, Meisel concludes.

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