ATLANTA -- Making treatment decisions during medical consultations after a cancer diagnosis has become increasingly complex and stressful for patients and physicians, according to a researcher at the University of California San Francisco.
Patients often withhold their questions and concerns during these sessions. In addition, physicians have limited time and resources to synthesize a patient's detailed medical history, personal preferences and relevant medical information. As a result, breast cancer patients often leave medical consultations feeling confused, frustrated and anxious about treatment decisions, says Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, director of the UCSF Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center, who will present data today at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting.
However, in a new study, Esserman found that by applying well-established decision making business techniques to medical consultations, breast cancer patients were more satisfied with their treatment decisions.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California San Francisco Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center and Stanford Department of Engineering Economic Systems.
Karen Sepucha, PhD, a graduate student from Stanford University, worked with Esserman and others at the UCSF Breast Care Center to develop a structure for medical consultations. This structure, which utilized techniques such as agenda setting, meeting facilitation and recording, helped to elicit patient preferences, clarify medical details and review options and outcomes.
"Applying these techniques to medical consultations leveraged both patients' and physicians' time and in doing so, made patients' treatment choices and outcomes clearer," Esserman says. "Patients felt reassured that their questions and concerns were being addressed and answered, their stress was reduced, and ability to listen improved."