Being diagnosed with cancer is a traumatic experience. But a new study out of Portland State University shows patients can be more “hopeful” if they actively participate in their treatment — and if they find doctors who communicate well.
PSU communications professor Jeffrey Robinson videotaped consultations between surgeons and about 150 women who’d just been diagnosed with breast cancer. He then surveyed the patients to measure their level of satisfaction. Robinson says satisfaction increased when the surgeon presented news as good or encouraging, and when the patient asserted her treatment preferences.
He explained, “The more that patients exert agency over their care, the more they express what they do and don’t want, the better things are going to be for them.”
Robinson is planning a follow-up study to see whether a patient’s hopefulness translates into better clinical outcomes.