Satisfaction with communication, medical knowledge, and coping style in patients with metastatic cancer

Soc Sci Med. 1991;32(6):627-32. doi: 10.1016/0277-9536(91)90141-x.


Interviews were conducted with 77 patients aged 19-84, admitted to a medical oncology ward for assessment and modification of treatment. Satisfaction with information provided about tests, symptoms and treatment was assessed, together with satisfaction with care in general, factual knowledge concerning cancer and other medical conditions, and anxiety. Habitual style of coping with stress by information-seeking vs avoidance was measured using the Miller Behavioral Style Scale. Satisfaction levels were generally high. Patients reporting the highest level of satisfaction with information were more avoidant in their coping style than the remainder, and were also less anxious. Factual knowledge about cancer was in contrast greater among patients who were less satisfied with communication. These patterns were not dependent on age or education. It is argued that satisfaction with communication in medical settings is not a simple function of communication skills and the provision of adequately structured information, but that patients' tendencies to cope with stress by seeking out or avoiding information need to be taken into account.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Communication*
  • Consumer Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Hospital-Patient Relations
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Patient Education as Topic / standards*
  • Socioeconomic Factors