Communicating about chemotherapy-induced anemia

Brad Davidson*, Diane Blum, David Cella, Heidi Hamilton, Lillian Nail, Roger Waltzman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Many validated instruments exist for determining the impact of chemotherapy-induced anemia and related fatigue on patient quality of life, but few studies analyze how healthcare providers actually discuss these subjects with patients. The authors share their study results on patterns of communication between participating patients and their physicians and allied health professionals. Letters of invitation were mailed to over 1,000 community-based oncologists, 15 of whom met the criteria and agreed to participate in this study on a first-enrolled basis until sufficient participation was ensured. In total, 36 of their patients were audio- and/or video-recorded during their regularly scheduled visits. Post-visit interviews were conducted separately with patients and participating healthcare professionals. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using sociolinguistic techniques. Although 52% of visit time was spent discussing side effects and symptoms, most discussions of anemia and fatigue lacked specificity necessary to determine their true impact on patients' lives. Physician inquiries regarding fatigue also tended to be too brief to elicit patients' chief concerns. Vocabulary used to discuss anemia and related fatigue was variable and imprecise, and no fatigue assessment instrument was used or referenced in any visit. Community-based oncologists are encouraged to modify their vocabulary and consider incorporating a validated fatigue instrument, either within or before the consultation, to improve the quality of such communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-40+46
JournalJournal of Supportive Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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