Optimistic honesty: understanding surgeon and patient perspectives on hopeful communication in pancreatic cancer care

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Abstract

Background Prognosis conversations between surgical oncologists and patients with pancreatic cancer are critically important and challenging. Surgeons and their patients often have discrepant understandings of prognosis despite extensive conversations. Little is known about how surgeons approach prognosis conversations with these patients; patients’ experiences with these conversations are also not well understood. This qualitative study sought to better understand surgeon and patient perspectives on communication in pancreatic cancer care with a view toward improvement. Methods Grounded theory methodology was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with surgical oncologists and patients who had undergone surgical resection with curative intent for periampullary cancer. Data were collected and analyzed inductively and iteratively to the point of theoretical saturation. Results 10 surgeons and 10 patients participated. Three inter-linking concepts were found to drive surgeon–patient conversations: understanding, trust and hope. Surgeons delicately and purposefully tailored information for patients, striving to deliver essential though honest, empathetic and hopeful messages. Patients desired simple, truthful explanations that demonstrated caring and fostered optimism. Conclusion Surgeons and patients with pancreatic cancer value optimistic honesty in tailored prognosis conversations. Perceived discrepancies in surgeon–patient understanding must be contextualized within efforts to establish a sufficient understanding, high level of trust, and optimistic stance of hope.

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APA

Blakely, K., Karanicolas, P. J., Wright, F. C., & Gotlib Conn, L. (2017). Optimistic honesty: understanding surgeon and patient perspectives on hopeful communication in pancreatic cancer care. HPB, 19(7), 611–619. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hpb.2017.04.001

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