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Communication analysis in oncology care. Performance of a combination of a content analysis system and a global scale


  • This article was published online on July 28, 2010. An error was subsequently identified in the author names. This notice is included in the online and print versions to indicate that both have been corrected [October 8, 2010].


Objective: The aim was to assess the feasibility and reliability of Velikova's Content Analysis System (VCAS) and the Medical Interaction Process System (MIPS) global scale for evaluation of communication in oncology care.

Methods: Seventy routine physician consultations with gastro-intestinal (GI) cancer patients were audio-recorded.

Two coders applied VCAS and MIPS global scale to the consultations. VCAS captures aspects of communication like symptoms, side effects, functional issues (e.g. emotional, social, physical), health-related quality of life and medical decision making. MIPS global scale measures the total impression of the consultation, e.g. patient centredness and psychosocial focus.

Results: In total, 61 of 70 consultations were coded. The coding took twice the consultations' actual durations in minutes for VCAS. The time for coding MIPS global scale equalled the consultations length. However, the coder had then listened to the consultation twice before, coding for VCAS. Cohen's kappa for all aspects measured by VCAS varied between 0.20 and 1, mean 0.80. One category (Info on test) had a kappa of 0.20, the other categories were all above 0.60. Weighted Kappa for MIPS global scale varied between 0.25 and 0.73, mean 0.42.

Conclusions: VCAS and MIPS global scale is a feasible combination of tools for evaluating patient–physician communication regarding content, medical decision making and global aspects of communication. VCAS showed high reliability. The MIPS global scale showed lower reliability, due to its sensitivity to the individual coders' unique values, common for all global scales. Further development of the combination of content and global instruments would be valuable. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.