Conceptualize Health Communication Impacts on Patient Outcomes in Oncology Outpatient Settings: A Mixed-Methods Study

Semin Oncol Nurs. 2022 Nov 12;151355. doi: 10.1016/j.soncn.2022.151355. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Informed by the dual process theory of supportive message, the aim of this study is to systematically describe symptom communication, including its relationship with patient outcomes.

Data sources: This is a mixed-methods study with an exploratory design. By examining symptom communication that occurred in oncology and hospice outpatient clinics, the qualitative phase employed conversation analysis to validate a typology of interaction patterns. The subsequent quantitative phase examined the relationship between interaction patterns and patient outcomes.

Conclusion: A total of 52 cancer patients' outpatient communications with their health care providers were included in the analysis. Ten unique interaction patterns were identified and defined. Among the 10 interaction patterns, some patterns are significantly associated with critical patient outcomes, including satisfaction, health communication self-efficacy, and symptom agreement between patients and their health care providers. This study represents one of the few mixed-methods studies to examine the patterns of real outpatient symptom communications and link them to concrete patient outcomes.

Implications for nursing practice: Our results present various interaction patterns that are commonly used in medical encounters and suggest that using some patterns affects critical patient outcomes.

Keywords: Cancer care; Health communication; Mixed-methods research; Patient outcomes; Symptom management.