Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 281-293

First online:

Communication Differences Between Physicians and Their Patients in an Oncology Setting

  • Tamara Goldman SherAffiliated withIllinois Institute of Technology, Institute of Psychology
  • , David CellaAffiliated withRush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center
  • , William T. LeslieAffiliated withRush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center
  • , Philip BonomiAffiliated withRush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center
  • , Samuel G. TaylorIVAffiliated withRush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center
  • , Bernie SerafianAffiliated withRush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center

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The physician-patient relationship has critical importance in the quality of medical care, especially in the oncology setting. Of particular interest over the past two decades has been the communication between physicians and their patients. It is understood that communication is related to patient and physician satisfaction as well as other medical outcomes. However, despite this interest and attention, investigators have only recently begun to assess the communication between physicians and patients from the patient's point of view. Additionally, previous investigations have primarily relied upon retrospective reports of the interaction from patients or physicians. The current investigation assessed physician–patient communication in an oncology setting, both as it was occurring and following the interaction. The units of analysis included participant ratings as well as those of trained observers. Findings revealed that physicians and patients disagree as to the valence of the messages which transpired. Additionally, results suggest that it is the patients who distort the messages in the positive direction. Research and clinical implications of this disagreement and positivity bias are discussed.

oncology communication physician patient