Improving communication effectiveness in oncology: The role of emotions

Maria Antonietta Annunziata, Barbara Muzzatti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Through communication, physicians disclose to their interlocutors (who become patients) the course of their disease (with the diagnosis), and again through communication doctors announce the recovery from disease, or its progression, or the helplessness of medicine in coping with it. Communication in medicine has, then, very strong ethical and personal implications that inevitably include personal interpretations of life and suffering, as well as the establishment of a genuine doctor–patient relationship and listening to and recognizing the patients’ and one's own emotions. Emotions represent an important aspect of the communicative task of physicians. In the present chapter (1) we will introduce the doctor–patient relationship as an element intrinsic to communication and its emotional aspects; (2) we will describe the principal emotions of patients along the disease course, as this is marked by various medical communications; (3) we will then focus on the subject of physicians’ emotions, and (4) list the principal strategies and resources that emotions (both doctors’ and patients’) will or should stimulate in physicians themselves. Increasing communication efficacy, improving the doctor–patient relationship, and adherence to therapy, as well as reaching greater well-being both in patients and in healthcare providers are the principal reasons that should encourage physicians to focus on this communicative-relational element and to look for occasions for specific training.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Challenges in Communication with Cancer Patients
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781461433699, 9781461433682
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013


  • Bad news
  • Cancer
  • Communication
  • Emotion
  • Oncology
  • Professional relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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