Individualizing Prognosis


Patients and family members use various sources of information to come up with their own prognostic estimates, with only a small minority relying solely on a physician’s estimate. Therefore, it would be important for physicians to describe the various factors that may be influencing their prognostic estimates.


Notice how the clinician in this example does the following step:

  1. Provide context behind their prognostic estimate by including factors that led to their prognostic estimates.

Take a minute to think about what worked well in this example and what can be done differently.

  1. Back AL, Arnold RM. Discussing prognosis: “How much do you want to know?” Talking to patients who are prepared for explicit information. J Clin Oncol. 2006 Sep 1;24(25):4209-13.
  2. Hagerty RG, Butow PN, Ellis PM, Dimitry S, Tattersall MHN. Communicating prognosis in cancer care: A systematic review of the literature. Ann Oncol. 2005 Jul;16(7):1005-53.

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