Being diagnosed with cancer can be a terrifying experience. But a new study from Portland State University shows patients do better depending on how the doctor delivers the news, and if they actively participate in their treatment decisions.
Those findings are from a two-year study by Jeffrey Robinson, a PSU professor of communications.
Greater patient satisfaction – and the increase in hope – are positive factors in a patient’s chances of survival, Robinson said
“A lot of surgeons don’t take the trouble to frame the news in a positive light, but they can be trained,” said Robinson. He stressed that presenting cancer news in a positive light does not mean giving false hope. A patient in the early stages of the disease might be told “you are at Stage 2, and that’s good news because cancer has four stages and we’re catching this at a good time,” he said.
Currently, only a few medical schools in the country offer specific courses in doctor-patient communication, according to Robinson. Most doctors don’t receive that training, he said.
Robinson advocates more communication training for doctors, and also for patients.