Patient Education and Counseling | VOL. 105
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Physicians’ responses to advanced cancer patients’ existential concerns: A video-based analysis

Publication Date Oct 1, 2022

Abstract

In a recent study, we explored what kind of existential concerns patients with advanced cancer disclose during a routine hospital consultation and how they communicate such concerns. The current study builds on these results, investigating how the physicians responded to those concerns. We analyzed video-recorded hospital consultations involving adult patients with advanced cancer. The study has a qualitative and exploratory design, using procedures from microanalysis of face-to-face-dialogue. We identified 185 immediate physician-responses to the 127 patient existential utterances we had previously identified. The responses demonstrated three approaches: giving the patient control over the content, providing support, and taking control over the content. The latter was by far the most common, through which the physicians habitually kept the discussion around biomedical aspects and rarely pursued the patients' existential concerns. Although the physicians, to some extent, allowed the patients to talk freely about their concerns, they systematically failed to acknowledge and address the patients' existential concerns. Physicians should be attentive to their possible habit of steering the agenda towards biomedical topics, hence, avoiding patients' existential concerns. Initiatives cultivating behavior enhancing person-centered and existential communication should be implemented in clinical practice and medical training.

Concepts

Existential Communication Biomedical Topics Video-based Analysis Biomedical Aspects Hospital Consultation Exploratory Design Medical Training Clinical Practice Training Video-recorded Consultations Advanced Cancer

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