Skip to main content
Journal cover image

Do patient attributes predict oncologist empathic responses and patient perceptions of empathy?

Publication ,  Journal Article
Pollak, KI; Arnold, R; Alexander, SC; Jeffreys, AS; Olsen, MK; Abernethy, AP; Rodriguez, KL; Tulsky, JA
Published in: Support Care Cancer
November 2010

PURPOSE: Most patients with advanced cancer experience negative emotion. When patients express emotions, oncologists rarely respond empathically. Oncologists may respond more empathically to some patients, and patients may perceive different levels of empathy and trust given past documentation of disparities in cancer care. METHODS: We audio-recorded 264 outpatient encounters between oncologists and patients with advanced cancer at three sites. We examined whether patient gender, age, race, marital status, education, economic security, and length of relationship with oncologist were related to oncologist empathic responses to patient's negative emotion and patient's perceptions of oncologist empathy and trust. RESULTS: Half (51%) of the patients expressed a negative emotion. Oncologists sometimes responded with empathy (29%). Oncologists were equally empathic with all patients, except they were more empathic with patients with low economic security compared with those reporting high economic security (p = .002). Patients with low economic security viewed oncologists as more empathic (p = .06) compared with those with moderate security. Married patients also viewed oncologists as more empathic (p = .04). Patients who knew their oncologist for more than a year had more trust than patients who knew their oncologists for less time (p = .02). CONCLUSIONS: Oncologists, in general, did not respond empathically to patient's negative emotion, and did this equally for most patients. Oncologists responded more empathically to patients who were less economically advantaged. In turn, patients with lower economic security perceived more empathy. Although oncologists need more education in responding empathically, they may not need to correct many biases in care.

Duke Scholars

Altmetric Attention Stats
Dimensions Citation Stats

Published In

Support Care Cancer

DOI

EISSN

1433-7339

Publication Date

November 2010

Volume

18

Issue

11

Start / End Page

1405 / 1411

Location

Germany

Related Subject Headings

  • Time Factors
  • Tape Recording
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Perception
  • Oncology & Carcinogenesis
  • Neoplasms
  • Middle Aged
  • Medical Oncology
  • Marital Status
 

Citation

APA
Chicago
ICMJE
MLA
NLM
Pollak, K. I., Arnold, R., Alexander, S. C., Jeffreys, A. S., Olsen, M. K., Abernethy, A. P., … Tulsky, J. A. (2010). Do patient attributes predict oncologist empathic responses and patient perceptions of empathy? Support Care Cancer, 18(11), 1405–1411. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-009-0762-8
Pollak, Kathryn I., Robert Arnold, Stewart C. Alexander, Amy S. Jeffreys, Maren K. Olsen, Amy P. Abernethy, Keri L. Rodriguez, and James A. Tulsky. “Do patient attributes predict oncologist empathic responses and patient perceptions of empathy?Support Care Cancer 18, no. 11 (November 2010): 1405–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-009-0762-8.
Pollak KI, Arnold R, Alexander SC, Jeffreys AS, Olsen MK, Abernethy AP, et al. Do patient attributes predict oncologist empathic responses and patient perceptions of empathy? Support Care Cancer. 2010 Nov;18(11):1405–11.
Pollak, Kathryn I., et al. “Do patient attributes predict oncologist empathic responses and patient perceptions of empathy?Support Care Cancer, vol. 18, no. 11, Nov. 2010, pp. 1405–11. Pubmed, doi:10.1007/s00520-009-0762-8.
Pollak KI, Arnold R, Alexander SC, Jeffreys AS, Olsen MK, Abernethy AP, Rodriguez KL, Tulsky JA. Do patient attributes predict oncologist empathic responses and patient perceptions of empathy? Support Care Cancer. 2010 Nov;18(11):1405–1411.
Journal cover image

Published In

Support Care Cancer

DOI

EISSN

1433-7339

Publication Date

November 2010

Volume

18

Issue

11

Start / End Page

1405 / 1411

Location

Germany

Related Subject Headings

  • Time Factors
  • Tape Recording
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Perception
  • Oncology & Carcinogenesis
  • Neoplasms
  • Middle Aged
  • Medical Oncology
  • Marital Status