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Alert Number 291

The physician - patient relationship

Date: Aug 4, 2008

Does your physician’s clinical expertise translate into giving you a sense of comfort that he/she understands your concerns? For those of us living with the sword of CLL hanging over our heads, this is a very important question.  

Based on the results of a recent survey conducted by CLL Topics and Mayo Clinic, there appear to be significant areas where there is room for improvement.  It seems patients do not like being told “CLL is a good cancer to have”. Duh!  Below is the abstract of an article published in the latest issue of Leukemia Research. I am one of the authors, only because they cannot list “CLL Topics Members” as authors.  This is your study, your results. Take a bow, ladies and gentlemen. You took the time to respond to our survey last year – and hopefully the results coming out of that survey will help physicians understand our concerns a bit better.

On a more personal note, I am getting ready to go off to India in a couple of days, to visit my Mom and extended family.  They say grief shared is easier to bear. I hope so; the last several weeks since PC died have been the darkest days of my life.  I can really use a little “attitude adjustment”. I will be back on the job towards the end of August – that’s a promise.

Be well,




Leuk Res. 2008 Jul 23.

The physician-patient relationship and quality of life: Lessons from chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Shanafelt TD, Bowen DA, Venkat C, Slager SL, Zent CS, Kay NE, Reinalda M, Tun H, Sloan JA, Call TG.

Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, United States.

We evaluated patients' satisfaction with the physician caring for them as part of an international web-based survey of quality of life (QOL) in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL; n=1482). Over half (55.9%) of patients thought about their diagnosis daily. Although >90% felt their doctor understood how their disease was progressing (i.e., stage, blood counts, nodes), <70% felt their physician understood how CLL affected their QOL (anxiety, worry, fatigue). Reported satisfaction with their physician in a variety of areas strongly related to patients' measured emotional and overall QOL (all p<0.001). Physician use of specific euphemistic phrases to characterize CLL (e.g., "CLL is the 'good' leukemia") was also associated with lower emotional QOL among patients (p<0.001). These effects on QOL remained (p<0.001) after adjustment for age, co-morbid health conditions, fatigue, and treatment status. The effectiveness with which physicians help patients adjust to the physical, intellectual, and emotional challenges of CLL appears to impact patient QOL.

PMID: 18656259


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