Surveying Patient Satisfaction and Comprehension to Develop More Effective Patient-Centered Education: Improving Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer Patients

Colton John Ladbury


Breast cancer patients receive large amounts of information from multiple practitioners during treatment, and are therefore predisposed to information overload and impaired comprehension of their treatment. It is therefore essential that education be presented in an appropriate manner to promote satisfaction and retention of important details regarding treatment. However, it was unclear how well existing practices accomplished that goal, and a survey was designed to evaluate patient satisfaction with and comprehension of education given by a single academic radiation oncology practice.
 The survey inquired about satisfaction with several specific aspects of the education and tested understanding of nine essential concepts that patients should be aware of regarding treatment. The survey was administered to all breast cancer patients over a three-month period, and the results very used to develop changes intended to improve comprehension and recall. The survey was adapted to these modifications and was again administered to every breast cancer patient over another three-month period. These results were evaluated to determine how effectively the changes improved recall and comprehension. Statistical comparisons were performed using Student’s t-test and Pearsons’s  chi-squared test.
            Following the changes to patient education, score on the comprehension questions improved from to 54.03±22.27% to 78.22±15.54% (p<0.001), with improvement on all examined concepts except knowledge of recurrence risk decrease associated with radiotherapy, from  33.33±8.61% to 16.00±7.33% (p=0.14) .  There was no significant decline in satisfaction following the changes, although some changes of education appeared less effective, with the amount of patients who remembered receiving a pre-consult letter decreased from 74.19±7.99% to 65.38±8.69% (p=0.47).
A patient-centered approach to developing and delivering patient education can lead to better satisfaction and patient comprehension, thereby improving compliance and encouraging patient engagement, which has a positive impact on outcomes. Although some education remained unmemorable or improperly emphasized following the interventions, overall trends in comprehension validate tailoring educational materials to patient feedback. In the future, the PDSA cycles will be continued with a focus on addressing persistent educational deficits and identifying further avenues to improve patient retention.

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