Clear communication between patients and healthcare providers is a cornerstone to enhancing patient outcomes.According to the American College of Physicians High Value Care initiative (2014), communication about goals of care improves patient outcomes, leads to enhanced quality of life, decreases non-beneficial medical care, provides care consistent with patient goals and wishes, and is cost effective.
The current healthcare system has placed a greater emphasis on interprofessional collaboration in the provision of healthcare. Interprofessional education and collaboration can decrease costs, improve patient/population health outcomes, and, in an example with palliative care teams, can improve patient communication regarding goals and outcomes (Institute of Medicine, 2013). Furthermore, the World Health Organization (2010) cites that healthcare systems need to look to interprofessional collaboration to shape the future of healthcare and improve patient outcomes. Therefore, communication with patients about prognosis and treatment needs to be structured from an interprofessional perspective in order to maximize the quality of care and patient outcomes.
This study focuses on testing the efficacy of an interprofessional communication guide for discussing prognosis and treatment with patients with terminal cancer. This feasibility study will use a quasi-experimental, pre-test and post-test design with a control group to test the efficacy of the interprofessional communication guide in improving patients’ understanding and retention of prognosis and treatment information communicated by members of the healthcare team.
The results of this study will lay the groundwork for future research enhancing communication for patients with terminal cancer. Enhanced communication between patients, families, and members of the healthcare teams improves patient understanding, leads to more informed decision making, and results in better patient satisfaction. The communication guide tested in this study is a first step in developing better communication tools for patients with cancer.