Patient preferences for the delivery of bad news – the experience of a UK Cancer Centre

Authors


Dr Anne L Thomas, Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester, LE1 5WW, UK (e-mail at107@le.ac.uk).

Abstract

BROWN V.A., PARKER P.A., FURBER L. & THOMAS A.L. (2011) European Journal of Cancer Care20, 56–61
Patient preferences for the delivery of bad news – the experience of a UK Cancer Centre

The primary aim of this study was to assess how patients would prefer to be given their cancer diagnosis in a typical UK cancer centre. Two hundred and forty-four patients attending the oncology outpatient department at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, UK, were recruited. Patients were invited to complete the Measure of Patients' Preferences questionnaire, write comments on their own experience of the breaking bad news consultation and choose their preferred role in decision making. Over 90% of questionnaires were completed. Patients rated the items addressing the message content of the consultation as more important than the facilitative or the supportive aspects. Over 80% of patients wrote a detailed account of their experiences, of which 60% were satisfied with the consultation. Most of the patients who were dissatisfied commented on the unsympathetic or pessimistic manner of the doctor. The majority of patients wanted a collaborative role in decision making. Regarding the cancer diagnosis, the majority of patients have information needs, want to be involved in treatment decisions and know their prognosis. The difficulty for physicians is how to meet individual information needs, give hope, but not deliver unrealistic expectations.

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