Impact of Physician-Patient Discussions on Patient Satisfaction

Published In: Medical Care, v. 46, no. 11, Nov. 2008, p. 1157-1162

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2007

by Judy Y. Chen, May Lin Tao, Diana M. Tisnado, Jennifer Malin, Clifford Y. Ko, Martha J. Timmer, John L. Adams, Patricia A. Ganz, Katherine L. Kahn

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BACKGROUND: When 2 treatment choices (ie, mastectomy vs. breast conserving therapy) show no difference in a primary clinical outcome (ie, survival), patient satisfaction becomes an important marker of the quality of care received. OBJECTIVES: To assess the impact of physician-patient discussion of primary surgical treatment outcomes on patients' satisfaction with medical care (MC) among women with incident breast cancer (BC). METHOD: The authors used self-report data of a population-based survey of 495 women >=50 years of age with stage I-II BC in Los Angeles, California in 2000 conducted a mean of 7.5 and 24 months after diagnosis. Using multivariable analyses, the authors evaluated the impact of physician-patient outcome discussions (ie, BC recurrence, BC survival, breast appearance, and arm swelling/pain/movement difficulty) on patient satisfaction at baseline and follow-up. RESULTS: Most women were satisfied with their MC (>65%). More than half reported physician-patient discussions of BC recurrence (54%), breast appearance (50%), and arm pain/swelling/movement difficulty (55%). Thirty-one percent discussed BC survival. Women who discussed arm swelling, pain, movement difficulty were significantly more likely to be satisfied at baseline (odds ratio: 1.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.1-3.0, P < 0.05) and follow-up (odds ratio: 1.9, 95% confidence interval: 1.2-3.0, P > 0.01). The more treatment outcomes patients discussed with their physicians, the higher patient satisfaction ratings were at baseline and follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Physician-patient discussions of BC treatment outcomes were highly correlated with patients' satisfaction with overall MC regardless of the procedure received. This suggests that the quality of BC care should include assessments of physician-patient communication.

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