Background: It has been suggested that patients frequently don’t understand the information they are conveyed overestimating their prognosis which leads to unfavourable decisions. This study was therefore conducted to explore the preferences of metastatic cancer patients regarding prognostic information and its predictors
Aim: The objective of this study was to identify communication preferences regarding disclosure of prognostic information among cancer patients with metastasis.
Methods: Two hundred and ten with metastatic cancer visiting outpatient departments of Multan Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Radiotherapy and Nishtar Medical College Hospital, Multan participated in the study. A survey was administered to patients to assess their attitude towards disclosure of prognostic information comprising questions about preferences including type, setting, timing of presentation and related questions.
Results: Majority of the patients (77%) wanted to discuss information about disease on diagnosis. Regarding initiation of discussion about their illness, 69.1% wanted the specialist to tell the information with 18.3% preferring to be told only if asked while 9.1% wanted to be asked first if they want the information. A minority of the patients (3.5%) did not want any information about their disease. Patients reported ease of understanding with pictogram while expressed preference for graphs for receiving information about their disease and survival. Most of the patients (62.8%) were desirous of getting information from oncologist with 24.2%, 11.7%, and 1.3% opting to get the same from hospital physician, family physician and nurse respectively. Patients wanted to get information about symptoms, treatment options, side effects, chances of cure and survival time.
Conclusions: Although most of the patients with metastatic cancer in this study want to have detailed prognostic information regarding their illness, their preference with regard to quantity and quality of information and its timing differ demonstrating that they will benefit most from individualized information sessions after assessment of their needs and preferences.