Is there a cost to poor communication in cancer care?: a critical review of the literature

Psychooncology. 2005 Oct;14(10):875-84; discussion 885-6. doi: 10.1002/pon.947.


In this paper, the authors engage in a critical analysis of the existing empirical literature which addresses the impact of ineffective communication between cancer patients and clinicians. It is increasingly accepted that communication plays a significant role in many aspects of the care experience, and that poor communication can have a significantly negative influence on the patient's psychosocial experience, symptom management, treatment decisions, and quality of life. However, scant attention has been given to the idea that poor communication may also have an economic impact worthy of attention. This area has not been the focus of systematic inquiry or substantive critical consideration. On the basis of critical analysis of the limited empirical evidence that exists across a wide range of studies in related areas, the authors propose that the existential and material costs associated with poor communication in cancer care may well be considerable, and conclude with a call to mobilize a heightened enthusiasm for addressing the research challenges in this field.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Decision Making
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Patient Care Planning
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Quality of Life