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Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research

Shared Decision Making

Improving Doctor-Patient Communication in Cancer Care 

Improving patient-doctor communication has been recognized as a need in cancer care. In response to this need, the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship has developed the "Know Yourself" patient tool (the “Tool”) to encourage discussion and information sharing in the patient-oncologist encounter. The Tool is designed to address the communication gaps between providers and patients, ensuring that patients are better equipped to understand cancer diagnosis, prognosis, goals of treatment, and treatment options and so that clinicians gain insights into patients’ hopes, concerns, and expectations. This Tool has been received with much interest from providers and patients, but has yet to be formally evaluated.

Therefore, we are conducting a study to evaluate the use and usefulness of the Tool. We compared patient and oncologist visits without Tool use to visits with Tool use. Outcome measures were collected via post-visit surveys of patients and clinicians and by analyzing transcripts of visit recordings. We are investigating how Tool use relates to (1) how physicians present and discuss options with patients; (2) how physicians assess patients’ preference; (3) how elements of shared decision making are carried out; and (4) how patients are given opportunities to ask questions.