Advertisement

Breaking bad news of a breast cancer diagnosis over the telephone: an emerging trend

  • Jane A. McElroy
  • Christine M. Proulx
  • LaShaune Johnson
  • Katie M. Heiden-Rootes
  • Emily L. Albright
  • Jamie Smith
  • Maria T. Brown
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

This study evaluated how breast cancer diagnoses were shared with patients.

Methods

Current members of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s Army of Women cohort were sent one email with a link to a survey assessing how their breast cancer diagnosis was communicated, a description of their support system during treatment, basic demographic information, and breast cancer diagnosis details.

Results

Participants (n = 2896) were more likely to be given their diagnosis over the telephone in more recent years (OR 1.07, 95% CI 1.06–1.08). Up until about 10 years ago (1967–2006), breast cancer diagnoses were communicated in person more often than by telephone. Since 2006, more than half of participants learned about their diagnosis over the telephone. From 2015 to 2017, almost 60% of participants learned about their diagnosis over the telephone. Among those who heard the news in person, a steady 40% were alone. Characteristics of those who received the news over the telephone included having identified support members, heterosexual identity, and a diagnosis of in situ breast cancer.

Conclusions

Receiving a telephone call about breast cancer diagnosis may be the norm rather than the exception in health care today. Trends in practice, as well as current best practices based primarily on expert opinion, may not provide optimal care for women diagnosed with breast cancer. Patient outcome research to guide future practice, such as the impact of modes of delivery of bad news, is urgently needed to determine appropriate patient-centered approaches for notification of breast cancer diagnoses.

Keywords

Breast cancer diagnosis Patient-provider communication Telephone communication Bad news 

Notes

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

520_2018_4383_MOESM1_ESM.docx (26 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 25 kb)

References

  1. 1.
    O’Connor K (2007) Toward the “tipping point”. A new coalition of groups is working quietly to reform U.S. health care. Health Prog 88(3):32–34PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fujimori M, Uchitomi Y (2009) Preferences of cancer patients regarding communication of bad news: a systematic literature review. Jpn J Clin Oncol 39(4):201–216.  https://doi.org/10.1093/jjco/hyn159 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Kuroki LM, Zhao Q, Jeffe DB, Powell MA, Hagemann AR, Thaker PH, Massad LS, Mutch DG, Zighelboim I (2013) Disclosing a diagnosis of cancer: considerations specific to gynecologic oncology patients. Obstet Gynecol 122(5):1033–1039.  https://doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0b013e3182a9bf42 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Abazari P, Taleghani F, Hematti S, Ehsani M (2016) Exploring perceptions and preferences of patients, families, physicians, and nurses regarding cancer disclosure: a descriptive qualitative study. Support Care Cancer 24(11):4651–4659.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-016-3308-x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Attai DJ, Hampton R, Staley AC, Borgert A, Landercasper J (2016) What do patients prefer? Understanding patient perspectives on receiving a new breast cancer diagnosis. Ann Surg Oncol 23(10):3182–3189.  https://doi.org/10.1245/s10434-016-5312-2 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Parker PA, Baile WF, Cd M, Lenzi R, Kudelka AP, Cohen L (2001) Breaking bad news about cancer: patients’ preferences for communication. J Clin Oncol 19(7):2049–2056.  https://doi.org/10.1200/jco.2001.19.7.2049 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Butow PNKJ, Beeney LJ, Griffin AM, Dunn SM, Tattersall MH (1996) When the diagnosis is cancer: patient communication experiences and preferences. Cancer 12:2630–2637.  https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1097-0142(19960615)77 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Girgis A, Sanson-Fisher RW, Schofield MJ (1999) Is there consensus between breast cancer patients and providers on guidelines for breaking bad news? Behav Med 25(2):69–77.  https://doi.org/10.1080/08964289909595739 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Azu MC, Jean S, Piotrowski JM, O’Hea B (2007) Effective methods for disclosing breast cancer diagnosis. Am J Surg 194(4):488–490.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjsurg.2007.06.007 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Baile WF, Lenzi R, Parker PA, Buckman R, Cohen L (2002) Oncologists’ attitudes toward and practices in giving bad news: an exploratory study. J Clin Oncol 20(8):2189–2196.  https://doi.org/10.1200/jco.2002.08.004 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Choudhry A, Hong J, Chong K, Jiang B, Hartman R, Chu E, Nelson K, Wei ML, Nguyen T (2015) Patients’ preferences for biopsy result notification in an era of electronic messaging methods. JAMA Dermatol 151(5):513–521.  https://doi.org/10.1001/jamadermatol.2014.5634 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cohen B (2015) When the news is bad, should you phone it in? Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/856250. Accessed 01/02/2018
  13. 13.
    Diefenbach M, Turner G, Carpenter KM, Sheldon LK, Mustian KM, Gerend MA, Rini C, von Wagner C, Gritz ER, McQueen A, Prayor-Patterson HM, Miller S (2009) Cancer and patient-physician communication. J Health Commun 14(Suppl 1):57–65.  https://doi.org/10.1080/10810730902814079 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Seifart C, Hofmann M, Bar T, Riera Knorrenschild J, Seifart U, Rief W (2014) Breaking bad news-what patients want and what they get: evaluating the SPIKES protocol in Germany. Ann Oncol 25(3):707–711.  https://doi.org/10.1093/annonc/mdt582 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Schofield PE, Butow PN, Thompson JF, Tattersall MH, Beeney LJ, Dunn SM (2003) Psychological responses of patients receiving a diagnosis of cancer. Ann Oncol 14(1):48–56CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Baile WF, Buckman R, Lenzi R, Glober G, Beale EA, Kudelka AP (2000) SPIKES-A six-step protocol for delivering bad news: application to the patient with cancer. Oncologist 5(4):302–311CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Narayanan V, Bista B, Koshy C (2010) ‘BREAKS’ protocol for breaking bad news. Indian J Palliat Care 16(2):61–65.  https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-1075.68401 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kaye P (1996) Breaking bad news : a 10 step approach. EPL, NorthamptonGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Pereira CR, Calonego MA, Lemonica L, Barros GA (2017) The P-A-C-I-E-N-T-E Protocol: an instrument for breaking bad news adapted to the Brazilian medical reality. Rev Assoc Med Bras 63(1):43–49.  https://doi.org/10.1590/1806-9282.63.01.43 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Dean A, Willis S (2016) The use of protocol in breaking bad news: evidence and ethos. Int J Palliat Nurs 22(6):265–271.  https://doi.org/10.12968/ijpn.2016.22.6.265 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Purnell CA, Arnold RM (2010) Retrospective analysis of communication with patients undergoing radiological breast biopsy. J Support Oncol 8(6):259–263CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Sparks L, Villagran MM, Parker-Raley J, Cunningham CB (2007) A patient-centered approach to breaking bad news: communication guidelines for health care providers. J Appl Commun Res 35(2):177–196.  https://doi.org/10.1080/00909880701262997 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Boxer RJ (2017) Telemedicine: remote cancer care improves communication. Oncol Times 39(2):1, 10, 16Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Sabesan S, Larkins S, Evans R, Varma S, Andrews A, Beuttner P, Brennan S, Young M (2012) Telemedicine for rural cancer care in North Queensland: bringing cancer care home. Aust J Rural Health 20(5):259–264.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1584.2012.01299.x CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Burger A (2017) Pew: U.S. smartphone ownership, broadband penetration reached record levels in 2016. Telecompetitor. https://www.telecompetitor.com/pew-u-s-smartphone-ownership-broadband-penetration-reached-record-levels-in-2016/. Accessed 16 Jul 2018
  26. 26.
    Sheetz SD, Kavanagh AM, Quek F, Kim BJ, Lu S (2009) Expectation of connectedness and cell phone use in crisis. In: Landgren J, Bvd W, Jul S (eds) ISCRAM 2009, Boundary spanning initiatives and new perspectives: Conference proceedings: 10th–13th of May, Gothenburg, Sweden. University of Gothenburg, GothenburgGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Giardina TD, Modi V, Parrish DE, Singh H (2015) The patient portal and abnormal test results: an exploratory study of patient experiences. Patient Exp J 2(1):148–154PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Devine EB, Totten AM, Gorman P, Eden KB, Kassakian S, Woods S, Daeges M, Pappas M, McDonagh M, Hersh WR (2017) Health information exchange use (1990-2015): a systematic review. EGEMS 5(1):27.  https://doi.org/10.5334/egems.249 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Pillemer F, Price RA, Paone S, Martich GD, Albert S, Haidari L, Updike G, Rudin R, Liu D, Mehrotra A (2016) Direct release of test results to patients increases patient engagement and utilization of care. PLoS One [Electronic Resource] 11 (6):e0154743. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154743
  30. 30.
    Arora NK (2003) Interacting with cancer patients: the significance of physicians’ communication behavior. Soc Sci Med 57(5):791–806CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Herndon JH, Pollick KJ (2002) Continuing concerns, new challenges, and next steps in physician-patient communication. J Bone Joint Surg (Am Vol) 84-A(2):309–315CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Dibble SL, Roberts SA (2002) A comparison of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment between lesbian and heterosexual women. J Gay Lesbian Med Assoc 6(1):9–17.  https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1020384614817 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
  34. 34.
    Monden KR, Gentry L, Cox TR (2016) Delivering bad news to patients. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent) 29(1):101–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family and Community MedicineUniversity of Missouri School of MedicineColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family ScienceUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.Master of Public Health ProgramCreighton UniversityOmahaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Family and Community MedicineSaint Louis University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  5. 5.Department of SurgeryUniversity of Missouri School of MedicineColumbiaUSA
  6. 6.School of Social Work, Falk CollegeSyracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

Personalised recommendations