Doctor-patient communication in a cancer ward

J Cancer Educ. 1992;7(1):41-54. doi: 10.1080/08858199209528141.


This study explored doctor-patient interaction by focusing on a specific type of encounter in an oncology ward, designed to enable discussion of the case by the doctors and informing the patient. In line with the cognitive orientation theory of Kreitler and Kreitler, the encounter's effects were examined in regard to three aspects--disease, treatment, and general state--on four levels: the information the patients have, their feelings, the information they desire, and the information they consider desirable. The patients were 52 men and women with different cancer diagnoses. Comparable questionnaires were administered to the patients before and after the meeting, and to the doctors only after it. The patients responded before and after also to Spielberger's scales of state anxiety and state anger. The results showed that patients claimed they had gained hardly any new information concerning the disease and their overall state. There were no decreases in the desired and desirable information. Their feelings were affected negatively to a slight extent, especially concerning treatment. In a quarter of the subjects, anxiety decreased and was replaced by anger. In regard to all levels and aspects there was a large gap between the evaluations of doctors and patients. The major conclusions were that patients and doctors differ in the meaning they assign to information, and that patients are conflicted in regard to asking for the personally relevant information they want.

MeSH terms

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Communication*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Truth Disclosure