Author(s): Kerr J, Engel J, SchlesingerRaab A, Sauer H, Hlzel D
BACKGROUND: Previous studies have employed short follow-up periods or examined only certain aspects of quality of life (QoL). This study aimed to examine the effect of communication on breast cancer patients' QoL and to investigate the role of age in this relationship. PATIENTS AND METHODS: In a prospective, observational study breast cancer patients were sent questionnaires, including the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer QLQ-C30, over 5 years. RESULTS: Forty-five per cent of the sample reported that some aspect of the communication they received was unclear and 59% wanted to speak with medical staff more. Patients under 50 years rated social and psychological help as more important, they were more aware of such services, had greater contact with support groups but were less satisfied with the information they received. Seventeen of the 27 QoL variables were significantly worse (P <0.01), up to 4 years after diagnosis, for those patients reporting unclear information. For patients over 50 years, QoL was significantly (P <0.001) worse when communication was unsatisfactory. Operation method or arm problems did not mitigate the association between communication and QoL. CONCLUSIONS: Communication is clearly a vital clinical skill that may play a role in patient QoL.