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Conrad Notes
a timely medical meeting newsletter
IMPROVING DOCTOR-PATIENT COMMUNICATION
A. Gaisser, MD, Cancer Information Service, Heidelberg, Germany, in cooperation with a group of experts in cancer care devised and tested three brochures for improving the dialogue between doctor and cancer patient. One brochure covers current treatment options and another focuses on individual types of cancer. The third brochure is a more comprehensive version for the physician. This method for information sharing could prove helpful in other diseases. (See related report of Redmond in this issue of Conrad Notes).

The German cancer information service (KID) About 43% of the requests in 1996 came after the patient's first treatment. Other inquiries arrived at the time of diagnosis (12.6%), initial therapy (19.9%), and recurrence (20.6%). Further analysis showed that 65.3% of the queries dealt with cancer therapy, another 15.7% with aftercare, and 14.1% with diagnosis. These data illustrate the cancer patient's need for earlier information.

Information on cancer and treatments One brochure introduces the patient to evidence-based treatment options and is not disease specific. The publication describes the standard, experimental, and unconventional therapies that are currently available. Other useful information on counselling groups and organizations for cancer care appears in this brochure's appendix. Separate brochures cover the individual types of cancer. The attending physician personally presents both brochures to each patient. This stresses the importance of the brochures as an information resource for the patient and an aid in communicating with the doctor.

The physician's brochure This version goes beyond what is given to the patient. The brochure contains greater detail by including additional scientific material for responding to patient questions. Also, motivations and coping styles are covered to help the doctor deal with these aspects of cancer.

Comments As stated by Gaisser, "A satisfactory doctor-patient relationship strongly depends on the quality of communication about the disease, especially in the case of chronic illness such as cancer." The development of the three brochures seeks to improve communication. This is an important step in assuring better treatment compliance and the overall doctor-patient relationship. Further study is needed to assess the acceptance of the three brochures by patients and physicians. Also, queries submitted to KID during the coming months merit analysis to determine the impact of the new program.

For professional correspondence, please contact Dr. Gaisser by Fax at: 49 6221 40 1806

Eugene A. Conrad

Presented at The European Cancer Conference (ECCO 9), September 14-18, 1997
Copyright © 1997 Conrad Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Eugene A. Conrad, PhD, MPH / ISSN 1078-2230 / November 1997
Send comments to: ConradNote@aol.com

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