Most cancer patients have overly optimistic view of their life expectancy

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Holly G. Prigerson, Ph.D., the Irving Sherwood Wright Professor in Geriatrics, Professor of Sociology in Medicine and director of the Center for Research on End of Life Care
of Weill Cornell Medicine, spoke to about a recent study in Cancer.

Dr. Holly Prigerson What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Dr. PrigersonPatients need to know their prognosis to be informed consumers of end-stage cancer care. We found that most patients have an overly optimistic view of their life-expectancy and that few patients base their life expectancy estimate on communications with their healthcare providers. It was striking that 0% of black patients said their prognostic estimate was based on a medical professional.

What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. PrigersonThere need to be ways of enhancing trust of medical information provided by physicians in clinic and a need to look to other sources of prognostic information, particularly from chaplains, for changes in illness understanding.

What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. PrigersonExamination of the influence of non-clinicians on reducing racial disparities in illness understanding. Perhaps bereaved family survivors might provide a resource for improving decisions made by patients and families at the end of life.``````

Additional coverage in American Journal of Managed Care.