Primary Article

Comparison of Physician and Patient Perceptions of Communications Issues

Authors: BETTY PFEFFERBAUM MD, PHYLLIS M. LEVENSON DrPH, JAN van EYS PhD

Abstract

Sixty-three adolescent cancer patients and 53 physicians participated in a study designed to compare physician and patient perceptions of (1) the delivery of information at diagnosis, (2) patient reactions to treatment-related concerns, and (3) physician utilization patterns. Both patients and cancer center physicians appeared comfortable with the designation of the cancer center physicians as specific care providers for cancer-related issues and the community physicians as care providers for other health problems. However, differences in physician-patient perceptions were found in regard to the diagnostic period. Considerable disparity was also noted between physician and patient perceptions of tests and treatments, with physicians reporting significantly more patient fear, lack of understanding, discomfort, dissatisfaction with choice, and preoccupation with illness than was reported by the patients. Analysis of physician responses according to level of training showed concordance across all levels. Implications for continuing education are discussed and recommendations are offered.

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References