Internal Medicine Residents' Perception of Cancer Prognosis.
J Cancer Educ. 2019 Jun 03;:
Authors: Belyea L, Acoba JD
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the USA. Many internal medicine physicians feel uncomfortable having to prognosticate; however, oncology patients often ask this of them. The inability to provide an accurate prognosis could lead a patient to make a treatment decision incongruent with their true wishes. We conducted this study to assess resident and attending physicians' knowledge of cancer prognosis and to establish the source of residents' knowledge. We conducted a prospective, cross-sectional study to assess internal medicine resident and attending physician knowledge of median survival for seven different oncologic case scenarios. Correct answers were defined by results of randomized, phase III trials. Residents were asked to identify the source(s) of information that most significantly influenced their choices. All residents and attending physicians affiliated with the University of Hawaii were invited to participate. A total of 67 of 85 surveys (78.8%) were completed, representing 41 residents and 26 attending physicians. Overall, the respondents correctly estimated median survival 42.6% of the time. The respondents underestimated more often than overestimated median survival (46.3% vs. 14.9%, p = 0.0001). Seventy-three percent of residents cited inpatient experience as influencing their oncologic knowledge. Internal medicine residents and attending physicians correctly estimate median survival of cancer patients less than 50% of the time and often underestimate survival. Inpatient rotations, where residents care for the oncologic patients experiencing significant complications of their cancer and treatment, may be giving them an unbalanced perspective on cancer prognosis.
PMID: 31161583 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]