Patient-centered communication (PCC) is a critical element of patient-centered care, which the Institute of Medicine (Committee on Quality of Health Care in America, 2001) promulgates as essential to improving healthcare delivery. Consequently, the US National Cancer Institute's Strategic Plan for Leading the Nation (2006) calls for assessing the delivery of PCC in cancer care. However, no comprehensive measure of PCC exists, and stakeholders continue to embrace different conceptualizations and assumptions about how to measure it. Our approach was grounded in the PCC conceptual framework presented in a recent US National Cancer Institute monograph (Epstein & Street, 2007). In this study, we developed a comprehensive inventory of domains and subdomains for PCC by reviewing relevant literature and theories, interviewing a limited number of cancer patients, and consulting experts. The resulting measurement domains are organized under the six core functions specified in the PCC conceptual framework: exchanging information, fostering healing relationships, recognizing and responding to emotions, managing uncertainty, making decisions, and enabling patient self-management. These domains represent a promising platform for operationalizing the complicated PCC construct. Although this study focused specifically on cancer care, the PCC measurements are relevant to other clinical contexts and illnesses, given that patient-centered care is a goal across all healthcare. Finally, we discuss considerations for developing PCC measures for research, quality assessment, and surveillance purposes. United States Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute (2006). The NCI Strategic Plan for Leading the Nation: To Eliminate the Suffering and Death Due to Cancer. NIH Publication No. 06-5773.
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