Communication Differences between Physicians and Their Patients in an Oncology Setting

Tamara Goldman Sher*, David Cella, William T. Leslie, Philip Bonomi, Samuel G. Taylor IV, Bernie Serafian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The physician-patient relationship has critical importance in the quality of medical care, especially in the oncology setting. Of particular interest over the past two decades has been the communication between physicians and their patients. It is understood that communication is related to patient and physician satisfaction as well as other medical outcomes. However, despite this interest and attention, investigators have only recently begun to assess the communication between physicians and patients from the patient's point of view. Additionally, previous investigations have primarily relied upon retrospective reports of the interaction from patients or physicians. The current investigation assessed physician-patient communication in an oncology setting, both as it was occurring and following the interaction. The units of analysis included participant ratings as well as those of trained observers. Findings revealed that physicians and patients disagree as to the valence of the messages which transpired. Additionally, results suggest that it is the patients who distort the messages in the positive direction. Research and clinical implications of this disagreement and positivity bias are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-293
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997


  • Communication
  • Oncology
  • Patient
  • Physician

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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