Doctor-Patient Communication about Prognosis

The Influence of Race and Financial Status

This article explores patient-physician communication regarding discussions about prognosis. The analysis specifically reviews the association between patient race and financial status with patient and clinician self-reports of prognosis discussions. The authors conducted a cross-section survey of 214 patients and their physicians from practice settings in southern Connecticut. Eligible patients were age 60 years or older and seriously ill with a primary diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure or cancer.

Key Findings:

  • Patient-clinician agreement about the occurrence of prognosis discussions was more likely when patients were younger (less than 80), nonwhite, or had lower financial status.
  • These findings contradict past research on the association between race, financial status and physician-patient communication. Further research that includes larger numbers of nonwhite participants is recommended to confirm these findings.