Tools to facilitate communication during physician-patient consultations in cancer care: an overview of systematic reviews

Sharon M. Licqurish, Olivia Y. Cook, Loyal P. Pattuwage, Christobel Saunders, Michael Jefford, Bogda Koczwara, Claire E. Johnson, Jon D. Emery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Tools have been developed to facilitate communication and support information exchange between people diagnosed with cancer and their physicians. Patient-reported outcome measures, question prompt lists, patient-held records, tape recordings of consultations, decision aids, and survivorship care plans have all been promoted as potential tools, and there is extensive literature exploring their impact on patient outcomes. Eleven systematic reviews of studies evaluating tools to facilitate patient-physician communication were reviewed and summarized in this overview of systematic reviews. Across the systematic reviews, 87 publications reported on 84 primary studies involving 15,381 participants. Routine use of patient-reported outcome measures and feedback of results to clinicians can improve pain management, physician-patient communication, and symptom detection and control; increase utilization of supportive care; and increase patient involvement in care. Question prompt lists can increase the number of questions asked by patients without increasing consultation length and may encourage them to reflect and plan questions before the consultation. There is limited benefit in audio recording consultations or using patient-held records during consultations. Physicians should be supported by adequately resourced health services to respond effectively to the range of clinical and broader patient needs identified through the routine use of tools to facilitate communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-520
Number of pages24
JournalCA Cancer Journal for Clinicians
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • communication
  • malignancy
  • medicine
  • neoplasm
  • patient
  • patient-reported outcome measures
  • physician
  • referral and consultation
  • systematic review


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