A Web-based communication aid for patients with cancer: The CONNECT Study

Neal J. Meropol*, Brian L. Egleston, Joanne S. Buzaglo, Andrew Balshem, Al B. Benson, Donald J. Cegala, Roger B. Cohen, Michael Collins, Michael A. Diefenbach, Suzanne M. Miller, Linda Fleisher, Jennifer L. Millard, Eric A. Ross, Kevin A. Schulman, Allison Silver, Elyse Slater, Nicholas Solarino, Daniel P. Sulmasy, Jonathan Trinastic, Kevin P. Weinfurt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Cancer patients and their oncologists often report differing perceptions of consultation discussions and discordant expectations regarding treatment outcomes. CONNECT, a computer-based communication aid, was developed to improve communication between patients and oncologists. METHODS: CONNECT includes assessment of patient values, goals, and communication preferences; patient communication skills training; and a preconsultation physician summary report. CONNECT was tested in a 3-arm, prospective, randomized clinical trial. Prior to the initial medical oncology consultation, adult patients with advanced cancer were randomized to the following arms: 1) control; 2) CONNECT with physician summary; or 3) CONNECT without physician summary. Outcomes were assessed with postconsultation surveys. RESULTS: Of 743 patients randomized, 629 completed postconsultation surveys. Patients in the intervention arms (versus control) felt that the CONNECT program made treatment decisions easier to reach (P =.003) and helped them to be more satisfied with these decisions (P <.001). In addition, patients in the intervention arms reported higher levels of satisfaction with physician communication format (P =.026) and discussion regarding support services (P =.029) and quality of life concerns (P =.042). The physician summary did not impact outcomes. Patients with higher levels of education and poorer physical functioning experienced greater benefit from CONNECT. CONCLUSIONS: This prospective randomized clinical trial demonstrates that computer-based communication skills training can positively affect patient satisfaction with communication and decision-making. Measurable patient characteristics may be used to identify subgroups most likely to benefit from an intervention such as CONNECT. Cancer 2013. © 2013 American Cancer Society. CONNECT is a computer-based tool to provide communication skills training to cancer patients. In a prospective randomized clinical trial, patients assigned to CONNECT reported improved satisfaction with physician communication and improved decision making when compared to those patients who did not receive online skills training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1437-1445
Number of pages9
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • cancer
  • cancer communication
  • computer-assisted
  • decision-making
  • health communication
  • physician-patient communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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