Assessing the relationship between patient-provider communication quality and quality of life among rural cancer survivors

Shaila M. Strayhorn, Marquita W. Lewis-Thames, Leslie R. Carnahan, Vida A. Henderson, Karriem S. Watson, Carol E. Ferrans, Yamilé Molina*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: We explored relationships between patient-provider communication quality (PPCQ) and three quality of life (QOL) domains among self-identified rural cancer survivors: social well-being, functional well-being, and physical well-being. We hypothesized that high PPCQ would be associated with greater social and functional well-being, but be less associated with physical well-being, due to different theoretical mechanisms. Methods: All data were derived from the 2017–2018 Illinois Rural Cancer Assessment (IRCA). To measure PPCQ and QOL domains, we respectively used a dichotomous measure from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey’s Experience Cancer care tool (high, low/medium) and continuous measures from the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-General (FACT-G). Results: Our sample of 139 participants was largely female, non-Hispanic White, married, and economically advantaged. After adjusting for demographic and clinical variables, patients who reported high PPCQ exhibited greater social well-being (Std. β = 0.20, 95% CI: 0.03, 0.35, p = 0.02) and functional well-being (Std. β = 0.20, 95% CI: 0.05, 0.35, p = 0.03) than patients with low/medium PPCQ. No association was observed between PPCQ and physical well-being (Std. β = 0.06, 95% CI: − 2.51, 0.21, p = 0.41). Sensitivity analyses found similar, albeit attenuated, patterns. Conclusion: Our findings aligned with our hypotheses. Future researchers should explore potential mechanisms underlying these differential associations. Specifically, PPCQ may be associated with social and functional well-being through interpersonal mechanisms, but may not be as associated with physical well-being due to multiple contextual factor rural survivors disproportionately face (e.g., limited healthcare access, economic hardship) and stronger associations with clinical factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1913-1921
Number of pages9
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Cancer survivorship
  • Patient-provider communication
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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