In the context of breast-cancer care, there is extremely little research on the association between observed (i.e., taped and coded) communication behaviors and patients’ health outcomes, especially those other than satisfaction. In the context of presurgical consultations between female breast cancer patients and a surgeon, the aim of this exploratory study was to test the association between communication-based participation behaviors and pre–post consultation changes in aspects of patients’ mental adjustment to cancer (i.e., coping). Participants included 51 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer and a surgical oncologist from a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center in the northeastern United States. Outcomes were changes in patients’ fighting spirit, helplessness/hopelessness, anxious preoccupation, cognitive avoidance, and fatalism (measured immediately before and after consultations via survey), and the main predictors were three communication-based participation behaviors coded from videotapes of consultations: patient question asking, patient assertion of treatment preferences, and surgeon solicitation of patient question/concern/opinion. Patients who more frequently asserted their treatment preferences experienced increases in their fighting spirit (p =.01) and decreases in their anxious preoccupation (p =.02). When companions (e.g., sister, spouse) asked more questions, patients experienced decreases in their anxious preoccupation (p =.05). These findings suggest that, in the present context, there may be specific, trainable communication behaviors, such as patients asserting their treatment preferences and companions asking questions, that may improve patients’ psychosocial health outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)