Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 788–793 | Cite as

The Surgeon-Patient Interaction in Older Women With Breast Cancer: What Are the Determinants of a Helpful Discussion?

  • Amardeep Thind
  • Rose Maly



Surgery is a key modality in the treatment of breast cancer. The patient-physician interaction is a key determinant of a range of outcomes, but there is little work examining the surgeon–breast cancer patient interaction. We analyzed data from 240 women with a new breast cancer diagnosis to better understand this interaction and to delineate the patient, surgeon, and surgeon-patient interaction-level characteristics affecting this interaction.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Los Angeles County of 240 women with a new breast cancer diagnosis aged ≥55 years. Women were asked to rate on a scale of 0 to 10 how helpful overall the way their surgeon discussed their breast cancer with them was. Logistic regression models were constructed to assess the relationship of patient, surgeon, and surgeon-patient interaction characteristics to the outcome variable.


Forty-four percent of women said that they found the way their surgeon discussed their breast cancer with them extremely helpful. Women with a higher level of perceived self-efficacy, a longer consultation time with the surgeon, a higher interactive information-giving score, and a higher participatory decision-making score had significantly higher odds of reporting the discussion to be “extremely helpful.”


Our results indicate that strategies to improve the patient’s perceived self-efficacy (preparing questions beforehand, practicing, watching a role model, and so on) will improve the surgeon-patient discussion. At a systems level, adequate time should be budgeted for the consultation, and we must ensure that adequate communication skills are imparted to surgeons during their educational training.


Breast cancer Surgeon-patient interaction Helpful discussion Older women 


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Copyright information

© The Society of Surgical Oncology, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Family Medicine and Epidemiology and BiostatisticsSchulich School of Medicine, University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Family MedicineDavid Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles

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