Background: Women with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) report poor patient-clinician communication, and long-lasting confusion and anxiety about their treatment and prognosis. Research shows that patient-centred care (PCC) improves patient experience and outcomes. Little is known about the clinician experience of delivering PCC for DCIS. This study characterized communication challenges faced by clinicians, and interventions they need to improve PCC for DCIS.
Methods: Purposive and snowball sampling were used to recruit Canadian clinicians by specialty, gender, years of experience, setting, and geographic location. Qualitative interviews were conducted by telephone. Data were analyzed using constant comparison. Findings were mapped to a cancer-specific, comprehensive PCC framework to identify opportunities for improvement.
Results: Clinicians described approaches they used to address the PCC domains of fostering a healing relationship, exchanging information, and addressing emotions, but do not appear to be addressing the domains of managing uncertainty, involving women in making decisions, or enabling self-management. However, many clinicians described challenges or variable practices for all PCC domains but fostering a healing relationship. Clinicians vary in describing DCIS as cancer based on personal beliefs. When exchanging information, most find it difficult to justify treatment while assuring women of a good prognosis, and feel frustrated when women remain confused despite their efforts to explain it. While they recognize confusion and anxiety among women, clinicians said that patient navigators, social workers, support groups and high-quality information specific to DCIS are lacking. Despite these challenges, clinicians said they did not need or want communication interventions.
Conclusions: Findings represent currently unmet opportunities by which to help clinicians enhance PCC for DCIS, and underscore the need for supplemental information and supportive care specific to DCIS. Future research is needed to develop and test communication interventions that improve PCC for DCIS. If effective and widely implemented, this may contribute to improved care experiences and outcomes for women diagnosed with and treated for DCIS.
Keywords: Communication; Decision-making; Ductal carcinoma in situ; Patient-centred care.