Patients' perceptions of physician-patient discussions and adverse events with cancer therapy

Dawn Hershman, Elizabeth Calhoun, Kinga Zapert, Shawn Wade, Jennifer Malin, Rich Barron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives. Patients with cancer who are treated with chemotherapy report adverse events during their treatment, which can affect their quality of life and increase the likelihood that their treatment will not be completed. In this study, patients' perceptions of the physician-patient relationship and communication about cancer-related issues, particularly adverse events were examined. Methods. We surveyed 508 patients with cancer concerning the occurrence of adverse events and their relationship and communication with their physicians regarding cancer, treatment, and adverse events. Results. Most individuals surveyed (>90%) discussed diagnosis, treatment plan, goals, and schedule, and potential adverse events with their physicians before initiating chemotherapy; approximately 75% of these individuals understood these topics completely or very well. Physician-patient discussions of adverse events were common, with tiredness, nausea and vomiting, and loss of appetite discussed prior to chemotherapy in over 80% of communications. These events were also the most often experienced (ranging in 95% to 64% of the respondents) along with low white blood cell counts (WBCs), which were experienced in 67% of respondents. Approximately 75% of the individuals reported that their overall quality of life was affected by adverse events. Conclusions. These findings suggest that discussions alone do not provide patients with sufficient understanding of the events, nor do they appear to adequately equip patients to cope with them. Therefore, efforts to improve cancer care should focus on developing tools to improve patients' understanding of the toxicities of chemotherapy, as well as providing resources to reduce the effects of adverse events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Drug Information
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2008


  • Chemotherapy
  • Communication
  • Side-Effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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