PURPOSE: Patients' desire for cost conversations exceeds the incidence of such conversations, and many oncologists report avoiding cost conversations despite reporting willingness to have them. Our objective was to examine oncologists' attitudes toward cost conversations and how those attitudes affect practice. METHODS: An experienced investigator conducted individual interviews with oncologists practicing in Kentucky. Participants were asked about their attitude toward and experience with cost conversations and their advice for discussing cost with patients. Interview transcripts were analyzed by a four-member team using qualitative descriptive analysis to identify themes. RESULTS: Participants were 32 MDs (male = 68.8%) age 31-77 years who were board-certified in medical oncology (53.1%), surgical oncology (25.0%), or radiation oncology (21.9%). We categorized participants into two groups: (1) those who viewed cost conversations as best practice and reported pursuing such conversations (37.5%) and (2) those who viewed cost conversations as not best practice and reported avoiding them (62.5%). Our analysis revealed three parallel themes for each category: Cost conversation attitudes and practice were based on (1) making good treatment decisions, (2) being a good clinician, and (3) having a good relationship with patients. CONCLUSION: Not all oncologists view cost conversations as best practice. To improve cost conversation attitudes and practice, cost conversations can be framed as a strategic tool that-when used well-fosters optimal decision making, professionalism, and the therapeutic relationship.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy