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Misapprehension in patients prescribed palliative chemotherapy for metastatic cancer

Many patients who are prescribed palliative chemotherapy for metastatic cancer misconstrue the possible effects of such treatment. 

Many patients who are prescribed palliative chemotherapy for metastatic cancer misconstrue the possible effects of such treatment.

The level of misapprehension is high, many patients overestimate the benefits with some even presuming curative intent. In part, this misunderstanding may derive from the patient's distressed state precluding conscious attentiveness when the details are discussed and consent for treatment obtained.

However, it might also result from poor clinician communication and their non-disclosure of the full details relevant to the patient. The availability and suitability of printed or other resources to support this process may also further the misconceptions.

This American study describes the experience of developing and appraising stakeholder involvement to instruct the patient centred informed consent process for palliative care chemotherapy interventions.

A multiprofessional expert team undertook an iterative process of design of new video and printed paper based

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Many patients who are prescribed palliative chemotherapy for metastatic cancer misconstrue the possible effects of such treatment.


Picture: Science Photo Library

The level of misapprehension is high, many patients overestimate the benefits with some even presuming curative intent. In part, this misunderstanding may derive from the patient's distressed state precluding conscious attentiveness when the details are discussed and consent for treatment obtained.

However, it might also result from poor clinician communication and their non-disclosure of the full details relevant to the patient. The availability and suitability of printed or other resources to support this process may also further the misconceptions.

This American study describes the experience of developing and appraising stakeholder involvement to instruct the patient centred informed consent process for palliative care chemotherapy interventions.

A multiprofessional expert team undertook an iterative process of design of new video and printed paper based material for consent to palliative treatment, and six people living with and beyond cancer contributed to the development of the resources. The prototype that resulted from this process was reviewed by a national panel of 57 patient advocates and 25 clinical oncologists.

Compared with existing materials, the informed consent materials developed from this collaborative venture were positively critiqued. The inclusion of the 'patient voice' in the form of items such as authentic quotes and frequently asked questions framed from the actual patient’s perspective were rated positively. Most oncologists suggested they would use the intervention in their clinical practice.


Enzinger AC, Wind JK, Frank E et al (2017) A stakeholder-driven approach to improve the informed consent process for palliative chemotherapy. Patient Education and Counseling. 100, 8, 1527-1536.

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