Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 281–293

Communication Differences Between Physicians and Their Patients in an Oncology Setting


  • Tamara Goldman Sher
    • Illinois Institute of Technology, Institute of Psychology
  • David Cella
    • Rush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center
  • William T. Leslie
    • Rush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center
  • Philip Bonomi
    • Rush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center
  • Samuel G. TaylorIV
    • Rush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center
  • Bernie Serafian
    • Rush–Presbyterian–St. Luke's Medical Center

DOI: 10.1023/A:1026285315454

Cite this article as:
Sher, T.G., Cella, D., Leslie, W.T. et al. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings (1997) 4: 281. doi:10.1023/A:1026285315454


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.


Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1997