, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 252-255
Date: 17 Dec 2008

Perceived Helpfulness of Physicians’ Communication Behavior and Breast Cancer Patients’ Level of Trust Over Time

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ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE

We evaluated the association between physicians’ communication behavior and breast cancer patients’ trust in their physicians.

DESIGN

Longitudinal survey conducted at baseline, 2-month, and 5-month follow-up during first year of diagnosis.

PARTICIPANTS

Newly diagnosed breast cancer patients (N = 246).

MEASUREMENTS

We collected data on patient perceptions of the helpfulness of informational, emotional, and decision-making support provided by physicians and patients’ trust. Linear regression models evaluated the association of concurrent and prior levels of physician support with patients’ trust.

RESULTS

At baseline, patients who received helpful informational, emotional, and decision-making support from physicians reported greater trust (p < 0.05, p < 0.001, and p < 0.01, respectively). At the 2-month assessment, baseline informational support and informational and emotional support at 2-months were associated with greater trust (p < 0.05, p < 0.01, and p < 0.05, respectively). At the 5-month assessment, only helpful emotional support from physicians at 5 months was associated with greater trust (p < 0.01). Interestingly, while perceived helpfulness of all three types of physician support decreased significantly over time, patient trust remained high and unchanged.

CONCLUSIONS

Findings suggest that while informational and decision-making support may be more important to patient trust early in the course of treatment, emotional support from physicians may be important to maintain trust throughout the initial year of diagnosis.