Relationship between patient satisfaction and physician-specific outcomes data

A new paper in the Journal of Urology has confirmed that there is a strong correlation between patient satisfaction post-treatment and the ability of physicians to provide counsel to patients about clinical outcomes after treatment based on their own, personal experience and outcomes data.

As we constantly advise newly diagnosed patients, the skill and experience of the treating physician and his/her support team are potentially the most important factors in how well (or poorly) a patient can expect to do in terms of his overall outcome after definitive treatment for localized prostate cancer, and this is true regardless of type of treatment under consideration.

The new paper by Gilbert et al. looked at all sorts of informational resources used by patients in making their decisions about type of treatment. Their study involved 1,204 men with T1/2NxMx prostate cancer who were enrolled in the prospective, multi-center Prostate Cancer Outcomes and Satisfaction with Treatment Quality Assessment (PROST-QA) study and who completed multiple surveys over the course of about 2 years from the time of their treatment.

The study reported three core results:

  • That sources of information endorsed by study participants varied by race, education, and study site.
  • That the most helpful sources of information were
    • Treatment description by the treating physician (33.1 percent)
    • Internet sites (18.9 percent)
    • Books about prostate cancer (18.1 percent)
  • That patient age (p = 0.005) and information provided by the physician regarding their own patients’ outcomes (p = 0.01) were independently associated with patient satisfaction with information provided.

This is exactly the type of result that The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink would have expected from a well-conducted study of this type. From a patient’s perspective, nothing else can compare to actually having a post-treatment outcome that correlates closely with what an individual clinician told one to expect if he or she were to treat you with a specific type of treatment. A clinician can only do this if he or she makes the effort to monitor the outcomes of his or her own patients over time (and, ideally, seek to be continuously improving those outcomes).

Books and Internet sites can be extremely helpful in other ways, and different types of information resource (books, videos, DVDs, the Internet, etc.) may be able to provide all sorts of information that help patients to understand what their options are. However, at the end of the day, for the patient, it is always going to be about whether he actually had an outcome close to what he was advised that he could expect by the clinician he decides to trust.

We would further note that this also increases the importance of clinicians offering reasonably complete information about what what can go wrong or what should be expected in terms of complications and side effects. For the patient who has post-operative Peyronie’s disease or climacturia (urination on orgasm) or other relatively well-recognized side effects post-treatment, it is going to be absolutely infuriating if they were never advised of such possibilities prior to their treatment.

From a patient perspective, this study provides one more reason why patients need to be able to have greater and easier access to treatment outcomes data associated with specific, named clinicians. The inability to easily obtain reliable, provider-specific information is becoming a demonstrably problematic issue for patients (not just prostate cancer patients, but any patient advised to undergo any type of non-emergency, elective therapy). How can patients possibly act as wise consumers of healthcare services if they don’t have access to the most crucial piece of information that is going to affect their post-treatment satisfaction?

One Response

  1. “The inability to easily obtain reliable, provider-specific information is becoming a demonstrably problematic issue for patients.”

    Shouldn’t that be “is continuing to be a demonstrably problematic issue for patients”?

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