How can we improve communication about medical treatment and future care?
The Journal of Clinical Oncology has published a paper about how we can have conversations about treatment decisions better. They found that patient coaching and question prompt lists were effective in improving communication.
Patients who had the one hour coaching session were three times as likely to ask about prognosis…. but discussions about prognosis were still rare and patients were often overly optimistic about their prognosis.
The intervention improved communication between oncologists and patients.
Most patients with advanced cancer say they want honest, sensitive communication about end-of-life issues. These conversations help patients and their families prepare, make informed decisions, and avoid potentially burdensome aggressive medical treatments near death.
Yet, patients are often misinformed about cancer survival and curability.
Those with over-optimistic prognosis estimates are more likely to die in a hospital and receive burdensome aggressive care that does not help the person.
Doctors often do not know their patients’ preferences about end-of-life issues.
The paper suggests that an intervention to improve communication around these issues was partly successful.