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How Can Radiation Oncologists Better Serve Their Patients? A Randomized Study to Determine Whether Radiation Oncologists Can Improve Patient Satisfaction by Attempting to Meet Their Patients' Preferences

18 Years
Open (Enrolling)
Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Lung Cancer

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Trial Information

How Can Radiation Oncologists Better Serve Their Patients? A Randomized Study to Determine Whether Radiation Oncologists Can Improve Patient Satisfaction by Attempting to Meet Their Patients' Preferences

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
their cancer?

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
Radiation Oncologist

- 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

Exclusion Criteria:

- 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.

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Subject)

Outcome Measure:

Did knowledge of patient preference improve patient satisfaction

Outcome Time Frame:

Length of radiation treatment

Safety Issue:


Principal Investigator

Ajay Bhatnagar, MD

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

University of Pittsburgh


United States: Institutional Review Board

Study ID:




Start Date:

April 2006

Completion Date:

Related Keywords:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Lung Cancer
  • Patient Preferences
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Patient-Doctor Relationship
  • Breast Neoplasms
  • Lung Neoplasms
  • Prostatic Neoplasms



UPMC Cancer Centers Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  15232