An exploratory study on the Italian patients' preferences regarding how they would like to be told about their cancer.

Research paper by Emanuela E Mauri, Elena E Vegni, Edoardo E Lozza, Patricia A PA Parker, Egidio A EA Moja

Indexed on: 04 Apr '09Published on: 04 Apr '09Published in: Supportive Care in Cancer


Major cross-cultural differences in truth-telling attitudes and practices have been demonstrated. Until recently, in Italy the doctor could conceal both diagnosis and prognosis to seriously ill patients out of beneficence. Signs of change have been reported, but the extent and way patients would be informed is still unknown. The aim of the study was to assess Italian patients' preferences regarding how they would like to be told about their cancer and its treatment. We examined the factor structure of the Measure of Patients' Preferences--Italian version (MPP-It) and whether demographical and medical variables were associated with the dimensions of patients' preferences.Patients were invited to participate during a visit to the oncology department of the Lecco hospital (Italy) for chemotherapy or follow-up. An Italian version of the MPP-It was administered. Data were analyzed through a factor analysis.A total of 210 cancer patients agreed to participate. Three main factors were identified: (1) Information (Talking About the Disease). Items in this factor were concerned with the dialogue about the disease and treatment options; (2) Support (The Emotional World of the Patient). These items referred to the supportive and relational aspects of the physician-patient encounter; (3) Care (The Ideal Doctor). These items related to the patients' desires about the doctor's personal attributes.The first two factors, information and support, were comparable to those of similar American and Asian studies. The study suggests a cross-cultural uniformity among cancer patients who appreciate the informative and clearness of the communication aspects as being primarily important, while also giving high points to relationship aspects. The third factor appears unique to the Italian context.