Objective: to investigate whether patient demographic characteristics and patients' companions influence variation in patient question asking during cancer clinical interactions, thus representing a potential disparity in access to information.
Methods: data included 109 oncologist-patient-companion interactions video recorded at a comprehensive cancer center. Interactions were observed and analyzed using the Karmanos Information Seeking Analysis System (K-ISAS).
Results: significant relationships were found between patient race/ethnicity and question asking. Black patients asked fewer questions and a smaller proportion of direct questions (relative to the total frequency of questions) than White patients. Black patients were also less likely to have companions present during the interaction, which resulted in fewer questions asked on Black patients' behalf.
Conclusion: differences in question asking by Black and White patients suggest that Black patients may receive less information from their oncologists than White patients. PRACTICE/RESEARCH IMPLICATIONS: patients should be encouraged to ask more questions and more direct questions and to bring a companion to the interaction to assist them in gaining information from their physician. Future research is needed to investigate ways to eliminate this potential source of disparities in access to information.
2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.