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Original Contribution
February 28, 2001

Discrepancies Between Patient and Physician Estimates for the Success of Stem Cell Transplantation

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Adult Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Mass (Drs Lee, Antin, and Weeks); and AMC Cancer Research Center, Denver, Colo (Dr Fairclough).

JAMA. 2001;285(8):1034-1038. doi:10.1001/jama.285.8.1034
Abstract

Context Stem cell transplantation is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality. The extent to which patients and their physicians correctly estimate these risks is unknown.

Objective To measure the expectations of patients and physicians prior to stem cell transplantation and correlate them with actual outcomes after transplantation.

Design Prospective cohort study with baseline questionnaire administered July 1996 through November 1999 and follow-up to May 2000.

Setting Tertiary care transplant center in the United States.

Participants Of 458 surveys mailed, evaluable returned surveys were included for 313 autologous and allogeneic stem cell transplantation patients and their physicians.

Main Outcome Measures Patient and physician expectations prior to transplantation (measured on 6-point Likert scales) of treatment-related mortality, cure with transplantation, and cure without transplantation; actual treatment-related mortality and disease-free survival among patients with at least 1 year of follow-up after transplantation (n = 263).

Results Both patients and physicians were fairly accurate in estimating treatment-related mortality when actual mortality was less than 30%. However, in situations in which mortality was higher than 30%, such as with allogeneic transplantation for intermediate or advanced disease, physician expectations were lower, while patients remained optimistic. Similarly, physicians provided lower estimates of disease-free survival in cases of intermediate or advanced disease while patient expectations remained high and constant regardless of disease stage.

Conclusions Patients and their physicians have the most concordant and accurate expectations when the outcome of stem cell transplantation is likely to be favorable. However, patients with more advanced disease fail to recognize the higher risks associated with their situations.

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