Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 583–589 | Cite as

Preference of cancer patients and family members regarding delivery of bad news and differences in clinical practice among medical staff

  • Zhongyi Fan
  • Liyan Chen
  • Limin Meng
  • Haihua Jiang
  • Qianqian Zhao
  • Lili Zhang
  • Chun-Kai Fang
Original Article



To study the preferences of cancer patients and their families in way of being informed of their condition and, by comparing their preferences with the medical staff’s clinical practices, explore the factors underlying the latter’s preferences.


A survey was conducted with 216 cancer patients, 242 families, and 176 clinical staff members with the Medical Status Communication questionnaire (Simplified Chinese edition).


The clinical staff scored lower than the cancer patients and their families in terms of the total score, way of communication, emotional support, and additional information (F = 16.134, p < .001; F = 28.604, p < .001; F = 13.839, p < .001; F = 16.745, p < .001). Factors underlying the medical staff’s clinical practices included, as revealed by the multiple linear regression analysis, gender (p = .03), and willingness to improve the way of communication about cancer (p = .006).


A gap existed between the medical staff’s clinical practice and the preferences of the cancer patients and their families. The medical staff should receive adequate training in cancer communication skills and techniques for improvement in this respect. When designing training for skills in delivering bad news to cancer patients, the well-being of cancer patients and their families must be thoroughly considered, and patient demands for information should be satisfied in the context of the information explosion of the current age.


Cancer Preference Truth telling 



The authors would like to thank all participating patients, family members, and medical staff, and are grateful to Professor Woung-Ru Tang of the Department of Nursing, Chang Gung University, Taiwan, for providing the medical status communication questionnaire (Simplified Chinese edition).

Compliance with ethical standards

The study protocol was approved by the institutional review boards of the study hospitals (NFEC-201709-K15).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of NursingSouthern Medical UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.School of NursingGannan Medical UniversityGanzhouChina
  3. 3.Department of OncologyNanfang Hospital Affiliated with Southern Medical UniversityGuangzhouChina
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry & Center for Hospice and Palliative Care CenterMacKay Memorial HospitalTaipeiTaiwan
  5. 5.Department of Medical MedicineMacKay Medical CollegeNew TaipeiTaiwan
  6. 6.Department of Thanatology and Health CounselingNational Taipei University of Nursing and Health SciencesTaipeiTaiwan

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