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Pivotal role of families in doctor–patient communication in oncology: a qualitative study of patients, their relatives and cancer clinicians

Datta, SS; Tripathi, L; Varghese, R; Logan, J; Gessler, S; Chatterjee, S; Bhaumik, J; (2017) Pivotal role of families in doctor–patient communication in oncology: a qualitative study of patients, their relatives and cancer clinicians. European Journal of Cancer Care , 26 , Article e12543. 10.1111/ecc.12543. Green open access

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Abstract

Families are a unique source of support for many cancer patients. Most advanced communication skills training for oncologists are patient centred and do not cover interactions with family members. The current study used in-depth qualitative interviews of patients, relatives and cancer clinicians with thematic analysis to explore the role of family members in the communication process. Forty-one participants included 10 cancer patients, 10 relatives ensuring proportionate representation of both gender and primary cancer site and 21 doctors representing both medical and surgical oncology. Nineteen of 20 patients and relatives wanted an "open and honest" discussion with their doctors. All patients, relatives and doctors preferred involvement of the family at most stages of cancer treatment. Five themes were identified in relation to communication with family members. The participants highlighted the "importance of family for physical and psychological care," they emphasised the need to "balance patient autonomy and relatives desire to be protective" using varied "negotiating strategies" that are influenced by "socioeconomic circumstances of both patient and family." The doctor-patient-relative communication process was not static with preferences changing over time. The data suggests that communication skills training of cancer clinicians should incorporate modules on better communication with relatives.

Type: Article
Title: Pivotal role of families in doctor–patient communication in oncology: a qualitative study of patients, their relatives and cancer clinicians
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/ecc.12543
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecc.12543
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Cancer, communications skills, family, oncology, training
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology > MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Womens Cancer
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1506392
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