Prognostic disclosure in oncology - Current communication models: A scoping review

Julie Rachel Bloom, Deborah Catherine Marshall, Carlos Rodriguez-Russo, Emily Martin, Joshua Adam Jones, Kavita Vyas Dharmarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Prognostic disclosure is essential to informed decision making in oncology, yet many oncologists are unsure how to successfully facilitate this discussion. This scoping review determines what prognostic communication models exist, compares and contrasts these models, and explores the supporting evidence. Method: A protocol was created for this study using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses Protocols extension for Scoping Reviews. Comprehensive literature searches of electronic databases MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO and Cochrane CENTRAL were executed to identify relevant publications between 1971 and 2020. Results: In total, 1532 articles were identified, of which 78 met inclusion criteria and contained 5 communication models. Three of these have been validated in randomised controlled trials (the Serious Illness Conversation Guide, the Four Habits Model and the ADAPT acronym) and have demonstrated improved objective communication measures and patient reported outcomes. All three models emphasise the importance of exploring patients' illness understanding and treatment preferences, communicating prognosis and responding to emotion. Conclusion: Communicating prognostic estimates is a core competency skill in advanced cancer care. This scoping review highlights available communication models and identifies areas in need of further assessment. Such areas include how to maintain learnt communication skills for lifelong practice, how to assess patient and caregiver understanding during and after these conversations, and how to best scale these protocols at the institutional and national levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbmjspcare-2021-003313
JournalBMJ Supportive and Palliative Care
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • communication
  • education and training
  • prognosis
  • psychological care
  • supportive care


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