Communicating the External Beam Radiation Experience (CEBRE): Perceived Benefits of a Graphic Narrative Patient Education Tool

Pract Radiat Oncol. 2020 Jul-Aug;10(4):e219-e226. doi: 10.1016/j.prro.2019.09.001. Epub 2019 Sep 11.


Purpose: Current radiation oncology patient education materials exceed national readability recommendations. A graphic narrative educational tool, the Communicating the External Beam Radiation Experience (CEBRE) discussion guide, was developed to facilitate patient-provider communication. A pilot study evaluated perceived benefits of CEBRE for patients and physicians.

Methods and materials: CEBRE was designed through a collaboration between physicians and designers. Designers interviewed patients, family members, and the clinical team. Interviews were coded for themes, leading to the design principles that drove the design of CEBRE, including a graphic narrative component. CEBRE explains the radiation therapy care path. Readability was measured using the Flesch-Kincaid test. Patients receiving radiation therapy or in follow-up and practicing radiation oncologists reviewed CEBRE and completed independent surveys. Each survey included modified versions of the Systems Usability Score (SUS) and Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) short form, along with questions unique to CEBRE. Likert-type scores are reported as median (interquartile range).

Results: CEBRE scores at a 5.4 Flesch-Kincaid grade level. Thirty-four patients and 15 radiation oncologists completed surveys. Patients had completed a high school/general equivalency degree (18%), a 2-year degree or some college (50%), or at least 4 years of college (32%). Patient and physician responses were concordant. On a scale of 1 to 5 for modified SUS and 1 to 4 for modified STAI ("strongly disagree" to "strongly agree") the SUS scores were 4 (4-5) and 4 (4-5) and STAI scores were 3 (3-4) and 3 (3-3.5) for patients and providers, respectively. This indicates CEBRE is usable and would decrease anxiety. Compared with text, the graphic narrative component of CEBRE was rated as "quite helpful" (4 [4-5]).

Conclusions: CEBRE, a graphic narrative education tool developed through a novel collaboration between designers and radiation therapy stakeholders, is accessible for patients and practical to facilitate patient-provider discussion. Perceived benefits demonstrating high usability and the potential to decrease patient anxiety warrant further prospective investigation of CEBRE in the clinical setting.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods*
  • Radiation Dose Hypofractionation / standards*
  • Radiation Oncology / methods*
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods*