A new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine reveals an increasing number of women are learning about their breast cancer diagnosis over the phone. It’s a finding that has prompted the MU School of Medicine to develop new training methods to better prepare future physicians to deliver negative news without being face-to-face with patients.
Researchers surveyed nearly 2,900 breast cancer patients who were diagnosed between 1967 and 2017. The research revealed prior to 2007, about 25 percent of patients learned of their diagnosis over the telephone. After 2007, that number increased to more than 50 percent. Since 2015, that number has grown to 60 percent.
“When we analyzed the data, I was completely surprised to find such a clear trend,” said Jane McElroy, PhD, professor of family and community medicine at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “Historically, physicians have decided to use their best judgment when delivering a diagnosis, whether it’s in person or over the phone. Nowadays, some patients clearly want to hear this information over the phone.”
Talking with patients in person about a serious illness or disease is considered best practice at hospitals and medical schools across
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