Volume 2022 Number 3
  • EISSN: 2223-506X


To determine the relationship between effective communication and the Quality of Life (QoL) of cancer patients through conducting a Meta-analysis (MA) to quantify and summarize the evidence and present the results of our local findings in the National Center for Cancer Care & Research (NCCCR) of HMC in Qatar.

MA was conducted via searching four online databases including PubMed, Medline, EMBASE and Psych info electronic and grey literature database, ProQuest dissertations. The MA encompassed published cross-sectional, longitudinal studies and a postgraduate PhD dissertation, that investigated the communication among cancer patients on one hand, and health care professionals (HCPs) and health caregivers (HCGs), and their impact in the QoL, on the other hand. Out of 20,796 hits, 204 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility. The final eligible studies were 19 articles that satisfied the inclusion criteria (18 published papers and one PhD dissertation). The quality of encompassed studies was calculated according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines. Comprehensive (CMA) software version 2 was used to perform the MA. The pooled effect size was calculated using the random effect and ANOVAs were performed for moderation analyses for categorical moderators and meta regression analysis for continuous moderators. In addition, publications bias analysis was also performed. The Cochrane software “Review Manager v5.3” was employed to examine the quality of the included studies. Patient perception of physician’s communication skills was compared with the perception of physicians using the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) communication assessment tool and QoL of cancer patients was assessed via FACTG questionnaire. Correlation coefficients of perception of patients were carried out using positive correlation analysis via SPSS V.26.

Communication had a significant positive impact on the QoL of cancer patients and a significant association and moderation was observed for the mental component summary (MCS). Furthermore, a significant positive impact of involving Health Caregivers (HCGs) in communication on the QoL of cancer patients was also found. Covariate analysis indicated a true variation in effect sizes between studies and confirmed the existence of inconsistencies among different studies due to the diverse definitions and assessment tools used to measure the outcomes. The heterogeneity assessment offered explanation where possible to the consistencies and diversities between studies. Clinical and design heterogeneities were observed and reported. Our local pilot study in Qatar suggested a significant positive correlation between QoL and patients perception of physicians’ communication skills, r = 0.222, P=0.3. Moreover, our pilot study suggests a significant discrepancy between the patients perceptions & HCP perceptions, of the different communication skills set (Interpersonal, Content, Total Communication Skills). The patients reporting a lower perception 57% vs 86% total communication skills p=0.0028, 58% vs 88% for IP communication skills p=0.0003, and 55% vs 84% for content communication skills p=0.0042.

This MA covered a gap that existed in the literature among published systematic reviews and meta-analyses. It confirmed a significant correlation between communication and QoL of cancer patients irrespective of cancer type, age group, culture, gender, prognosis, or year of study. These results were global, transcontinental, and transcultural. It clearly highlighted the significant need to communicate with cancer patients and how much its benefits improve their QoL, as well as medical services. The results can be used to inform policy makers and health practitioners. Future Interventions should take into account these results to improve the communication between health practitioners and cancer patients and the involvement of families in the communication process. The health care system should consider communication as a vital component of providing a holistic patient and family centered care. The umbrella of QoL, provides a clear picture about patients and their families’ conditions and dictates that their communication needs are addressed as part of a standard of care. Furthermore, communication with its wide list of components should undergo a crucial level of studying, researching, critiquing and standardization, so that patients’ right to access a high standard of care is guaranteed across all health care systems. Our local results in Qatar resonate with this MA and raise the attention needed to clinical communication practice.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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