Lack of Patient-Clinician Concordance in Cancer Patients: Its Relation With Patient Variables

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2017 Jun;53(6):988-998. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2016.12.347. Epub 2017 Feb 6.


Context: Patients with cancer are bothered by its diagnosis, treatment, and associated uncertainty. Lack of concordance (LOC) of patients' reporting of their symptoms and quality of life (QOL) with that of their clinicians has been observed in cancer care. However, information regarding the reporting of patients' bother due to aspects of cancer experience and their clinicians' assessment is lacking.

Objectives: The objective was to describe cancer patients' bother due to aspects of their disease experience and explore the concordance (LOC) or a lack thereof between patients' and clinicians' reporting of patients' bother and factors associated with it.

Methods: Data from a prospective study of cancer patients' symptoms were analyzed. LOC was defined as any discrepancy between patient-clinician pairs in reporting patients' bother due to disease, cancer treatment, comorbidity, and side effects of symptom management. The relation of LOC to patients' QOL and distress was also explored.

Results: Of the 2597 patients analyzed, a perfect concordance was observed in 37%-42%. Clinicians underestimated the severity of bother in 62%-76% of discordant cases. LOC was significantly associated with patient-reported distress and poor QOL. Referral for symptom management was associated with the clinician's rating of patients' bother, and LOC was associated with likelihood of poor compliance with recommendations for symptom management.

Conclusion: Majority of clinicians tended to underestimate cancer patients' bother, and this was associated with poor QOL of cancer patients and their distress. Future studies should examine the LOC and its correlates to confirm the results of this study.

Keywords: Lack of concordance; QOL; bother; cancer; distress; treatment compliance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Odds Ratio
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life* / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological* / epidemiology