Negotiating the tensions in patient-centered care

Christina A. Minami*, Anthony D. Yang, Eytan Szmuilowicz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


IMPORTANCE Information regarding treatment options and prognosis is essential for patient decision making. Patient perception of physicians as being less compassionate when they deliver bad news might be a contributor to physicians' reluctance in delivering these types of communication. OBJECTIVE To compare patients' perception of physician compassion afterwatching video vignettes of 2 physicians conveying a more optimistic vs a less optimisticmessage, determine patients' physician preference afterwatching both videos, and establish demographic and clinical predictors of compassion. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS Randomized clinical trial at an outpatient supportive care center in a cancer center in Houston, Texas, including English-speaking adult patients with advanced cancerwhowere able to understand the nature of the study and complete the consent process. Actors and patients were blinded to the purpose of the study. Investigatorswere blinded to the videos observed by the patient. INTERVENTION One hundred patients were randomized to observe 2 standardized, roughly 4-minute videos depicting a physician discussing treatment information (more optimistic message vs less optimistic message) with a patient with advanced cancer. Both physicians made an identical number of empathetic statements (5) and displayed identical posture. After viewing each video, patients completed assessments including the Physician Compassion Questionnaire (0 = best, 50 = worst). MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Patients' perception of physician compassion after being exposed to a more optimistic vs an equally empathetic but less optimistic message. RESULTS Patients reported significantly better compassion scores after watching the more optimistic video as compared with the less optimistic video (median [interquartile range], 15 [5-23] vs 23 [10-31]; P < .001). There was a sequence effect favoring the second video on both compassion scores (P < .001) and physician preference (P < .001). Higher perception of compassion was found to be associated with greater trust in the medical profession independent of message type: 63 patients observing the more optimistic message ranked the physician as trustworthy vs 39 after the less optimistic message (P = .03). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE Patients perceived a higher level of compassion and preferred physicians who provided a more optimistic message. More research is needed in structuring less optimistic message content to support health care professionals in delivering less optimistic news.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1167-1168
Number of pages2
JournalJAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 15 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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