For the 10 million Americans who are living with cancer or have survived it, one factor may be most indispensable for keeping their spirits intact: communication. In recognition of this, the National Cancer Institute plans to issue a special report by November 1, co-authored by a University of Rochester physician, stating that effective communication is truly essential to good cancer care and deserves more research.
Without the ability to understand what is happening, how can patients make life-altering medical decisions, cope with and find meaning in their journey, or navigate a complex health care system"
The public is really struggling with these issues, said co-author Ronald M. Epstein, M.D., professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry and Oncology at the University of Rochester, and Director of the Rochester Center to Improve Communication in Health Care. You can have the best treatment in the world but if you dont understand it, or have access to it, it does you no good.
Traditional relationships with doctors dictated that patients followed orders and trusted the professionals to solve all problems. Modern society and modern medicine turned this upside down: Access to the Internet and treatment advances have changed what used to be a deficit of information into information overload. As a result, both patients and physicians must have the skills to communicate so they can filter, deliberate together and manage the uncertainty that comes with cancer.
In short, communicating clinical evidence is more than just stating the facts, according to the NCI report. Communication is necessary during all phases of the cancer continuum from prevention through survival and end-of-life care.
Epstein and co-author Richard L. Street, Jr., Ph.D., professor and head of the Department of Communications at Texas A&M University, were commissioned by the NCI Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences. Their work, titled Patient-
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University of Rochester Medical Center