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Even when child's cancer prognosis is poor, parent/physician communication can provide hope

CHICAGOPhysicians who inform parents of children with cancer about the likely course of the disease can provide hope, even when the childs prognosis is poor, according to a Dana-Farber Cancer Institute study to be presented at a press briefing at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting on Sunday, June 3, at 7:30 a.m. CDT.

Previous studies suggest that physicians are reluctant to give prognostic information, out of fear that it will destroy hope, said Jennifer Mack, MD, the studys lead author. Strikingly, we found that honest communication of prognostic information can actually help parents to feel more hopeful, not less.

The researchers sought to determine whether there is any validity to the view that withholding prognostic information, in cases where the medical outlook for a child is poor, can help sustain parents hopes. Few previous studies have explored the relationship between prognostic disclosure and hope in this setting.

The researchers surveyed 194 parents of children with cancer in their first year of treatment and the childrens physicians. They assessed whether there was any connection between parents recall of prognostic information conveyed by the physician and the extent to which they felt such communication always made them feel hopeful.

They found that parents who reported receiving extensive prognostic information were also more likely to report that physician communication made them feel hopeful, even when the prognosis was poor.


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Contact: Bill Schaller
william_schaller@dfci.harvard.edu
617-233-5507
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
3-Jun-2007


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