Asking questions can help: development and preliminary evaluation of a question prompt list for palliative care patients

Br J Cancer. 2003 Dec 1;89(11):2069-77. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6601380.


Question prompt lists (QPLs) have been shown to be an inexpensive and effective communication tool for patients in oncology consultations. We aimed to develop and pilot a QPL for palliative care (PC) patients. In order to identify suitable questions for inclusion in the QPL, we conducted focus groups and individual interviews with 19 patients, 24 carers and 22 PC health professionals. A further 21 health professionals reviewed the draft document. The draft QPL was piloted in 23 patients. In total, 112 questions were identified and grouped into eight categories. All participants felt that the QPL, in booklet form, could be a useful tool. Out of 23 patients in the pilot study, 22 agreed that the QPL was helpful, contained useful questions, was easy to understand and would be useful in the future. State anxiety (STAI) decreased after receiving the booklet and seeing the doctor in 16 out of 19 patients (overall anxiety decreased by a median of 8, IQR 1-13). Participants in the pilot study endorsed the inclusion of end-of-life issues in the QPL, despite some reservations expressed about this by health professionals in the individual interviews. We have identified a specific QPL that might facilitate useful dialogue between PC patients and their doctor. The QPL has strong support from patients, their carers and relevant health professionals.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Caregivers
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Palliative Care
  • Patient Participation*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*