Communication and Shared Decision Making in the Breast Cancer Treatment Consultation: A Comparative Analysis of English- and Spanish-Speaking Patients

Abstract [from journal]

Communication in the breast cancer treatment consultation is complex. Language barriers may increase the challenge of achieving patient-centered communication and effective shared decision making. Design. We conducted a prospective cohort study among Spanish- and English-speaking women with stage 0 to 3 breast cancer in two urban medical centers in the Midwestern United States. Patient centeredness of care and decisional conflict were compared between Spanish- and English-speaking participants using the Interpersonal Processes of Care (IPC) and Decision Conflict Scale (DCS), respectively. Clinician behaviors of shared decision making were assessed from consultation audio-recordings using the 12-item Observing Patient Involvement in Decision Making (OPTION) scale. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted to control for differences in baseline characteristics and clinician specialty. Results. Fifteen Spanish-speaking and 35 English-speaking patients were enrolled in the study. IPC scores (median, interquartile range [IQR]) were higher (less patient centered) in Spanish- versus English-speaking participants in the domains of lack of clarity (2.5, 1-3 v. 1.5, 1-2), P = 0.028; perceived discrimination (1.1, 1-1 v. 1.0, 1-1), P = 0.047; and disrespectful office staff (1.25, 1-2 v. 1.0, 1-1), P < 0.0005 (Wilcoxon rank-sum test). OPTION scores (median, IQR) were lower in Spanish- versus English-speaking participants (21.9, 17.7-27.1 v. 31.3, 26.6-39.6), P = 0.001 (Wilcoxon rank-sum test). In multivariate analysis, statistically significant differences persisted in the IPC lack of clarity and disrespectful office staff between Spanish- and English-speaking groups. Conclusions. Our findings highlight challenges in cancer communication for Spanish-speaking patients, particularly with respect to perceived patient centeredness of communication. Further cross-cultural studies are needed to ensure effective communication and shared decision making in the cancer consultation.