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Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative
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David Kissane, Barry Bultz, Phyllis Butow, and Ilora Finlay

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199238361

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238361.001.0001

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Discussing prognosis and communicating risk

Discussing prognosis and communicating risk

Chapter:
(p.113) Chapter 10 Discussing prognosis and communicating risk
Source:
Handbook of Communication in Oncology and Palliative Care
Author(s):

Phyllis N Butow (Contributor Webpage)

Martin HN Tattersall

Martin Stockler

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199238361.003.0010

‘Prognosis’ and ‘risk’ in the context of healthcare commonly refer to the chances of a health state occurring, including the development of an illness or disability, symptoms of the illness, benefits and side-effects of treatment, and the likelihood of, or likely time to, death. Estimating how long people diagnosed with cancer have to live, and the likely outcomes of various treatment options, is not easy. Communicating these concepts to cancer patients in a way that is both clear and supportive is even harder. Many health professionals are uncertain how much risk information to give and in what format. This chapter aims to help health professionals better communicate prognosis and risk to people who have cancer. It presents evidence regarding the legal isses, patients' and doctors' views on these issues, patients' understanding of prognosis, and the impact of discussing prognosis on patient outcomes. Finally, summary guidelines are provided for the health professional, and strategies for training in this communication challenge are included.

Keywords:   prognosis, risk, cancer patients, communication, health professionals, doctors, patient outcomes, training

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