Communication between physicians and older women with localized breast cancer: Implications for treatment and patient satisfaction

Wenchi Liang, Caroline B. Burnett, Julia H. Rowland, Neal J. Meropol, Lynne Eggert, Yi Ting Hwang, Rebecca A. Silliman, Jane C. Weeks, Jeanne S. Mandelblatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


Purpose: To identify factors associated with patientphysician communication and to examine the impact of communication on patients' perception of having a treatment choice, actual treatment received, and satisfaction with care among older breast cancer patients. Materials and Methods: Data were collected from 613 pairs of surgeons and their older (≥ 67 years) patients diagnosed with localized breast cancer. Measures of patients' self-reported communication included physician- and patient-initiated communication and the number of treatment options discussed. Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine the relationships between communication and outcomes. Results: Patients who reported that their surgeons mentioned more treatment options were 2.21 times (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.62 to 3.01) more likely to report being given a treatment choice, and 1.33 times (95% CI, 1.02 to 1.73) more likely to get breastconserving surgery with radiation than other types of treatment. Surgeons who were trained in surgical oncology, or who treated a high volume of breast cancer patients (≥ 75% of practice), were more likely to initiate communication with patients (odds ratio [OR] = 1.62; 95% CI, 1.02 to 2.56; and OR = 1.68; 95% CI, 1.01 to 2.76, respectively). A high degree of physician-initiated communication, in turn, was associated with patients' perception of having a treatment choice (OR = 2.46; 95% CI, 1.29 to 4.70), and satisfaction with breast cancer care (OR = 2.13; 95% CI, 1.17 to 3.85) in the 3 to 6 months after surgery. Conclusion: Greater patient-physician communication was associated with a sense of choice, actual treatment, and satisfaction with care. Technical information and caring components of communication impacted outcomes differently. Thus, the quality of cancer care for older breast cancer patients may be improved through interventions that improve communication within the physician-patient dyad.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1008-1016
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Oncology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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