Cancer patients’ needs for virtues and physicians’ characteristics in physician-patient communication: a survey among patient representatives
- 8 Downloads
Data on patients’ needs with respect to physicians’ ethical behavior and virtues are important but not available in most cases.
Patients and methods
In an iterative process together with patients’ representatives, we developed a standardized questionnaire which was distributed to the representatives of the Women’s Self-Help after Cancer in Germany. We started with the classical ethical virtues and clustered them to characteristics. The patients’ representatives were asked to rate in different communications settings.
One hundred eighty-six patients’ representatives took part in the survey. For four communication situations (first communication on symptoms, diagnosis of cancer, choice of therapy, doubts on therapy), competence was rated as very important by 80–89% and as important by 6–7%; honesty as very important by 78–89% and as important by 5–12%; respect as very important by 66–71% and as important by 19–21%; and patience as very important by 55–68% and as important by 6–24%. Compassion was rated as less important, with only 24–31% rating it as very important and another 26–32% as important. Additional desires expressed by the participants were physicians having more time (9.1%) and a better relationship between physician and patient (7.0%).
Competence, honesty, respect, and patience are important characteristics which should be focused on in communication training of medical students and physicians. In spite of compassion being rated as less important, training on compassion/empathy might help doctors to improve coping with the continuous confrontation with complications, progress, suffering, and death of their patients.
KeywordsBreast cancer Ethical considerations Patient needs Virtues Physician-patient communication
We thank the Women’s Self-Help Organization “Frauenselbsthilfe nach Krebs” for their active participation in the development and distribution of the questionnaire.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- 3.Niemeyer-Guimarães M, Schramm FR (2017) The exercise of autonomy by older cancer patients in palliative care: the biotechnoscientific and biopolitical paradigms and the bioethics of protection. Pall Care 9:1178224216684831Google Scholar
- 5.Helfende Berufe genießen das Vertrauen der Deutschen- Ergebnisse des “Trust in Professions Report 2016” des GfK Vereins (2016) http://www.gfk.com/de/insights/press-release/helfende-berufe-geniessen-das-vertrauen-der-deutschen/. Assessed 03.12.2017
- 6.Allensbacher Berufsprestige-Skala (2013) http://www.ifd-allensbach.de/uploads/tx_reportsndocs/PD_2013_05.pdf. Assessed 03.12.2017
- 13.Keinki C, Seilacher E, Ebel M, Ruetters D, Kessler I, Stellamanns J, Rudolph I, Huebner J (2015) Information needs of cancer patients and perception of impact of the disease, of self-efficacy, and locus of control. J Cancer Educ 30:610–616Google Scholar
- 14.Fuchs T, Hanaya H, Seilacher E, Koester MJ, Keinki C, Liebl P, Huebner J (2016) Information deficits and second opinion seeking - a survey on cancer patients. Cancer Invest 28:1–8Google Scholar
- 15.Constantinidou A, Afuwape SA, Linsell L, Hung T, Acland K, Healy C, Ramirez AJ, Harries M (2009) Informational needs of patients with melanoma and their views on the utility of investigative tests. Int J ClinPract 63(11):1595–1600Google Scholar
- 18.Jung B, Stoll C, Feick G, Prott FJ, Zell J, Rudolph I, Huebner J (2016) Endocrine therapy in prostate cancer patients: patients’ report on communication and supportive care and its association with adherence; prostate cancer patients’ report on communication about endocrine therapy and its association with adherence. J Cancer Res Clin Oncol 142(2):465–470CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar