Do patients use decision and communication aids as prompted when meeting with breast cancer specialists?

Health Expect. 2015 Jun;18(3):379-91. doi: 10.1111/hex.12042. Epub 2013 Jan 7.


Background: Our breast cancer clinic promotes patient use of decision and communication aids (DAs/CAs) through two mechanisms: coaching and prompting. From January through September 2010, we provided services to 462 of 1106 new visitors (42%). Of those 462 visitors, 267 (58%) received coaching. For the remainder (195 or 42%), the best we could do was prompt them to self-administer the DA and CAs.

Objective: We wanted to learn whether patients prompted to use DAs/CAs did so.

Methods: We surveyed prompted patients after their visits. We asked how much of each DA they reviewed, whether they listed questions, made notes and audio-recorded their consultations. We tallied frequencies and explored associations using logistic regression.

Results: Of the 195 prompted patients, 82 responded to surveys (42%). Nearly all (66/73 or 90%) reported reviewing some or all of the booklets and 52/73 (71%) reported viewing some or all of the DVDs. While 63/78 (81%) responded that they wrote a question list, only 14/61 (23%) said they showed it to their doctor. Two-thirds (51/77 or 66%) said someone took notes, but only 16/79 (20%) reported making audio recordings.

Discussion: More patients reported following prompts to use DAs than CAs. Few reported showing question lists to physicians or recording their visits. Our exploratory analyses surfaced associations between using CAs and race/ethnicity or education that merit further investigation.

Conclusion: Prompting patients assures better use of decision than communication aids. Clinicians may need to take a more active role to ensure patients receive adequate notes and recordings.

Keywords: breast cancer; communication aids; decision aids; prompting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Communication
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Medical Oncology
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*