Does physician communication style impact patient report of decision quality for breast cancer treatment?

Kathryn A. Martinez, Ken Resnicow, Geoffrey C. Williams, Marlene Silva, Paul Abrahamse, Dean A. Shumway, Lauren P. Wallner, Steven J. Katz, Sarah T. Hawley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Provider communication that supports patient autonomy has been associated with numerous positive patient outcomes. However, to date, no research has examined the relationship between perceived provider communication style and patient-assessed decision quality in breast cancer. Methods Using a population-based sample of women with localized breast cancer, we assessed patient perceptions of autonomy-supportive communication from their surgeons and medical oncologists, as well as patient-reported decision quality. We used multivariable linear regression to examine the association between autonomy-supportive communication and subjective decision quality for surgery and chemotherapy decisions, controlling for sociodemographic and clinical factors, as well as patient-reported communication preference (non-directive or directive). Results Among the 1690 women included in the overall sample, patient-reported decision quality scores were positively associated with higher levels of perceived autonomy-supportive communication from surgeons (β = 0.30; p < 0.001) and medical oncologists (β = 0.26; p < 0.001). Patient communication style preference moderated the association between physician communication style received and perceived decision quality. Conclusion Autonomy-supportive communication by physicians was associated with higher subjective decision quality among women with localized breast cancer. These results support future efforts to design interventions that enhance autonomy-supportive communication. Practice implications Autonomy-supportive communication by cancer doctors can improve patients’ perceived decision quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1947-1954
Number of pages8
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Breast cancer
  • Decision making
  • Decision quality
  • Patient autonomy
  • Provider communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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