Do patients understand us? A multidisciplinary approach to assessing disparity in health literacy among patients with advanced cancer: exploring impact on symptom management, quality of life and understanding of care plans


Emerging Issues & Trends: Innovations and Research in Palliative & End-of-Life Care



Cecilia Mah, BScPharm, PharmD; Shehla Ramji, MRT(T); Tricia Laffin, MRT(T)



Is there an advantage to health care providers knowing a patient’s health literacy level and coping styles before the consultation? A simultaneous mixed methods randomized control trial in the Cross Cancer Institute’s Palliative Radiation Oncology Multidisciplinary Clinic looks at studying the relationships between cancer health literacy and treatment plan understanding and compliance. Participants were accrued in 2021 with validated health literacy, coping style, symptom level and quality of life tools administered as well as post-consult open ended interviews.



1. Will the provision of health literacy levels to health care providers before consultations influence patient understanding of and ability to carry out their treatment plans, their symptom burden and their quality of life?

2. Will the provision of health literacy levels to health care providers increase patient understanding of their cancer diagnosis and treatment objectives and potential side effects?

3. Is there a relationship between a patient’s demographics, health literacy levels, and coping styles, and the optimal ways to personalize their education on their treatment options and plans in a multidisciplinary palliative clinic?


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