HealthDay News — According to a study published in Cancer, enhanced patient-centered communication (E-PCC) positively impacts patients’ psychological state during bad-news encounters.

Jelena Zwingmann, from Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany, and colleagues conducted a prospective, experimental study to examine the impact of physician communication style during a bad-news encounter. 

The authors randomized 98 patients with cancer and 92 patients without cancer to view a video of a clinician delivering a first cancer diagnosis with an E-PCC style or a low patient-centered communication (L-PCC) style.

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The researchers observed a substantial increase in state anxiety and negative affect for all participants viewing the disclosure of a cancer diagnosis. Physician communication style moderated this emotional response. 

Significantly less anxiety was reported by participants viewing an oncologist displaying an E-PCC style versus those watching an oncologist displaying an L-PCC style; they also reported significantly higher trust in the physician.

“Under a threatening, anxiety-provoking disclosure of bad news, a short sequence of empathic PCC influences subjects’ psychological state, insofar that they report feeling less anxious and more trustful of the oncologist,” the authors write. “Video exposure appears to be a valuable method for investigating the impact of a physician’s communication style during critical encounters.”


Zwingmann J, et al. “Effects Of Patient-Centered Communication On Anxiety, Negative Affect, And Trust In The Physician In Delivering A Cancer Diagnosis: A Randomized, Experimental Study”. Cancer. 2017. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30694 [Epub ahead of print]

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