Background: The manner in which bad news is communicated in oncological contexts can affect patients’ engagement, their coping strategies and therapeutic compliance. Although this topic has been broadly investigated since the nineties, to the best of our knowledge, little has been written about Italian patients’ experiences and preferences concerning what the oncologists should disclose and how they should intimate patients about their health conditions in different stages of oncological disease. Methods: In an attempt to fill this gap, an online self-report questionnaire was administered to a sample of Italian onco-haematological patients. Data were analysed both qualitatively (by a content analysis) and quantitatively (by descriptive analysis and Generalized Linear Mixed Model). Results: While the majority of patients elected to know the truth during their clinical course, a polarisation between those arguing that the truth be fully disclosed and those claiming that the truth be communicated in a personalised way was observed at the attitude level. Among demographic variables accounted for, age seems to most affect patients’ preferences. Indeed, younger Italian patients decidedly reject concealment of the truth, even when justified by the beneficence principle. This result could be a reaction to some protective and paternalistic behaviours, but it could even reflect a relation according to which the more the age increases the more the fear of knowing rises, or an intergenerational change due to different ways of accessing the information. The qualitative analysis of the final open-ended question revealed three main sources of problems in doctor-patient encounters: scarcity of time, absence of empathy and use of not-understandable language that makes it difficult for patients to assume a more active role. Conclusions: The results of the present study, which represents a preliminary step in the subject investigation, will be deployed for the construction and validation of a more sophisticated questionnaire. Better awareness of the Italian onco-haematological patients’ preferences concerning bad news communication and truth-telling could be useful in adopting more suitable medical practices and improving doctor-patient relationships.

Italian onco-haematological patients’ preferences in bad news communication: a preliminary investigation

Burro, Roberto
2021-01-01

Abstract

Background: The manner in which bad news is communicated in oncological contexts can affect patients’ engagement, their coping strategies and therapeutic compliance. Although this topic has been broadly investigated since the nineties, to the best of our knowledge, little has been written about Italian patients’ experiences and preferences concerning what the oncologists should disclose and how they should intimate patients about their health conditions in different stages of oncological disease. Methods: In an attempt to fill this gap, an online self-report questionnaire was administered to a sample of Italian onco-haematological patients. Data were analysed both qualitatively (by a content analysis) and quantitatively (by descriptive analysis and Generalized Linear Mixed Model). Results: While the majority of patients elected to know the truth during their clinical course, a polarisation between those arguing that the truth be fully disclosed and those claiming that the truth be communicated in a personalised way was observed at the attitude level. Among demographic variables accounted for, age seems to most affect patients’ preferences. Indeed, younger Italian patients decidedly reject concealment of the truth, even when justified by the beneficence principle. This result could be a reaction to some protective and paternalistic behaviours, but it could even reflect a relation according to which the more the age increases the more the fear of knowing rises, or an intergenerational change due to different ways of accessing the information. The qualitative analysis of the final open-ended question revealed three main sources of problems in doctor-patient encounters: scarcity of time, absence of empathy and use of not-understandable language that makes it difficult for patients to assume a more active role. Conclusions: The results of the present study, which represents a preliminary step in the subject investigation, will be deployed for the construction and validation of a more sophisticated questionnaire. Better awareness of the Italian onco-haematological patients’ preferences concerning bad news communication and truth-telling could be useful in adopting more suitable medical practices and improving doctor-patient relationships.
Onco-haematological disease, Truth, Bad news, Patients’ experiences, Patients’ preferences
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/1043518
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