Limited data exists for the cancer patients' preferences on their patient-doctor interaction
with their radiation oncologist. These physicians have the opportunity to develop intimate
relationships with their patients since these patients typically require daily radiation
treatments anywhere from one to seven weeks. Thus, by having a greater understanding of the
individual patient preferences, the radiation oncologists will be able to better serve their
patients leading to improved patient satisfaction with their physician and healthier outlook
on life. This is the premise and the hypothesis of this study.
An instrument, a questionnaire, previously developed by our group (IRB# 0512075) will be
used to determine these cancer patient/subjects' preferences for the following six
categories (see Appendix 1)
1. How should the radiation oncologist address them (by their first name or Mr/Mrs)?
2. Should the radiation oncologists wear a white coat?
3. Should the radiation oncologist discuss their prognosis and survival with them?
4. Should the radiation oncologist have physical contact with their patient (hold hand or
hug the patient.)?
5. Should the radiation oncologist inquire about their religious beliefs to help cope with
6. Should the radiation oncologist use basic, lay language or more technical terminology
when describing the radiation treatment?
This research study will consist of a randomized study of breast, prostate, and lung cancer
patients/subjects receiving radiation therapy at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer
Institute and UPMC Cancer Centers who will complete this questionnaire. Radiation therapy
can be either for definitive or palliative therapy. This creates six distinct cohorts in
the study (definitive breast, prostate, and lung cancer, palliative breast, prostate, and
lung cancer) that provide an adequate representation of the cancer patient/subject cohorts
that receive radiation therapy.
Patients/subjects will answer this questionnaire at the time of the initial consultation
with the radiation oncologist (before meeting the radiation oncologist), once midway during
radiation therapy, and at the completion of the radiation treatment. At completion, there
will be additional questions used from a modified version of an established validated
instrument currently being used at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute to assess
patient/subject satisfaction. (Appendix 2). Participants will rate the importance of each
item on a 5-point scale: strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, or
strongly agree. They will also use a parallel ranking from 0-100 on each item to more
finely assess the satisfaction differences for the survey in Appendix 2 only.
After subjects answer the questionnaire at time of initial consultation, the subject will
then be randomized to either an experimental or control group. In the experimental group,
the radiation oncologist participants will read their patient's responses to this
questionnaire prior to their initial consultation and try to adapt to the subject's
(patient's) preferences. In the control group, the radiation oncologist participant will be
blinded to the results of their patient's questionnaire. At the end of treatment, the
radiation oncologists who viewed their patient preferences will have to answer the
following question according to the 5 point scale system: "Did knowledge of your patient's
preferences influence your behavior?" The radiation oncologist participant will not have
access to the patient satisfaction survey.
The duration of study per patient participant will the duration of the radiation treatment
which has an average length of 4 weeks. A subject accrual of 500 patient participants and 30
radiation oncologist participants is expected at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer
Institute and UPMC Cancer Centers, consisting of 19 Radiation Oncology centers across
Western Pennsylvania. The expected duration of the entire study is 1 year. The data will be
collected through these instruments to generate a database collected in our database
management system. The data will be coded and maintained by the clinical study coordinator.
Inclusion Criteria:Any Patient/subject (adult male or female) with prostate or breast or
lung cancer (Primary or Metastatic) who is scheduled to receive radiation therapy at one
of the UPMC Cancer Centers
- Patient/subject must receive radiation treatment in addition to consultation with the
- Patient/subject must meet with radiation oncologist at least one day per week while
receiving radiation therapy.
- Any attending radiation oncologist whose patient is enrolled in this study
- Patient/subject under age 18 If subject previously underwent this study, even if the
previous study was for a different diagnosis. Subjects can only undergo this study
Patients/subjects who do not have the functional and mental capacity to independently
answer the questionnaire.