In October 2015, we asked the online cancer patient community for input on their preferences for receiving an initial cancer diagnosis and other test results. The question was prompted by a discussion on a breast surgeon forum. We received 1000 completed surveys!
On April 16th, 2016, Dr. Deanna Attai presented “Survey of Patient Perspectives on Receiving a New Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Testing Results: Can We Do Better?” at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. Dr. Attai presented on behalf of the study authors: Deanna Attai, Regina Hampton, Alicia Staley, Andrew Borgert, and Jeffrey Landercasper.
Survey results showed that physicians are not meeting patient expectations for mode of communication of results or for timeliness of results. Most patients prefer to be notified of an initial cancer diagnosis in a face-to-face forum. They prefer to be informed of radiology and imaging test results by telephone, and blood test results by electronic communication.
The results note preferences of the majority of respondents, and it is very important to remember that one size does not fit all with respect to notification preferences. Many patients while noting that they preferred face-to-face notification, they also noted that they prefer the method that is fastest. Many patients commented that they appreciated the opportunity to find out by telephone, so the shock could wear off – they felt that the subsequent office visit was then more productive as it could focus on a plan of action. Survey respondents commented that they wanted to meet with their physician as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.
Survey limitations include a narrow demographic profile and lack of formal survey validation. However, it is clear that we are not meeting patient expectations. Patient satisfaction with care is a national measure of quality of care. At the very least, the authors recommended that patients be questioned about their notification preferences, and that efforts should be made to honor patient preferences.
Here is a link to the slide share presentation.
Manuscript publication is expected later this year and will be shared when available.
Thank you very much to the online patient community for taking the time to participate in the survey. We are very mindful of your time, but assessing patient community preferences, and sharing them with the larger physician community, is an important step to ensure that patient voices are heard.