ReCAP: Perspectives of Patients, Caregivers, and Medical Staff on Greetings in Oncology Practice: A Prospective Survey

J Oncol Pract. 2016 Feb;12(2):170-1; e188-96. doi: 10.1200/JOP.2015.006049. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Purpose: Encounters between patients and medical staff are the foundation for building the patient–medical staff relationship, which is a keystone of care. We investigated perspectives of patients, caregivers, and medical staff related to greetings in oncology practice.

Methods: A total of 186 patients (median age, 62 years) and 104 caregivers (median age, 54 years) visiting the outpatient clinics at the Davidoff Cancer Institute completed a questionnaire about greeting-related preferences. Similar questionnaires were completed by 93 staff members (physicians, nurses, secretaries, and psychosocial team).

Results: Overall, patients preferred to be addressed informally (ie, by their given name) during first and subsequent meetings with their physician (59% and 75% of patients, respectively). However, most physicians (79%) addressed patients more formally (using surname or full name). Overall, 53% of patients wanted the physician to shake their hand. Physicians reported shaking hands with their patients at the beginning (46%) or end (71%) of the first meeting. Most patients (76%) wanted physicians to formally introduce themselves (by their full name) and mention their academic degree (65%). For other oncology professionals, a majority of patients (63%) preferred an informal introduction (by given name only). No major differences were observed between patients' and caregivers' perspectives.

Conclusion: This survey provides insights that may help oncology professionals in building relationships with their patients. Specifically, our findings suggest that patients with cancer in Israel prefer a casual environment; yet, they prefer that physicians introduce themselves in a more formal manner.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Caregivers*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology*
  • Medical Staff*
  • Middle Aged
  • Patients*
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult