Improving physician-patient communication about cancer pain with a tailored education-coaching intervention

Richard L. Street, Christina Slee, Donna K. Kalauokalani, Dionne Evans Dean, Daniel J Tancredi, Richard L Kravitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined the effect of a theoretically grounded, tailored education-coaching intervention to help patients more effectively discuss their pain-related questions, concerns, and preferences with physicians. Methods: Grounded in social-cognitive and communication theory, a tailored education-coaching (TEC) intervention was developed to help patients learn pain management and communication skills. In a RCT, 148 cancer patients agreed to have their consultations audio-recorded and were assigned to the intervention or a control group. The recordings were used to code for patients' questions, acts of assertiveness, and expressed concerns and to rate the quality of physicians' communication. Results: Patients in the TEC group discussed their pain concerns more than did patients in the control group. More active patients also had more baseline pain and interacted with physicians using participatory decision-making. Ratings of physicians' information about pain were higher when patients talked more about their pain concerns. Conclusions: The study demonstrates the efficacy of a theoretically grounded, coaching intervention to help cancer patients talk about pain control. Practice implications: Coaching interventions can be effective resources for helping cancer patients communicate about their pain concerns if they are theoretically grounded, can be integrated within clinical routines, and lead to improve health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)42-47
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Cancer
  • Pain
  • Patient participation
  • Physician-patient communication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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