When we think about the road that a mesothelioma patient travels, we tend to focus on the treatment that they receive and the emotional and financial challenges that they face, but their path starts earlier than that, at the time that they first begin presenting with suspicious symptoms. A group of UK researchers has just completed and published the results of a study that examines that earliest part of the process, and the way that a mesothelioma diagnosis is communicated to those most affected. Based on interviews with patients, their family members, and healthcare professionals who care for and treat them, the RADIO Meso study takes a deep dive into what goes wrong in these dialogues and what steps the medical community needs to take to improve them.
RADIO Meso is an acronym for Receiving A Diagnosis of Mesothelioma. The research was funded by Mesothelioma UK, a charitable organization dedicated to the support of mesothelioma patients, and in the interest of providing information in the most accessible and valuable way possible, its authors have distilled their conclusions down to a “top 10” list of the best way for healthcare professionals to break the news of a mesothelioma diagnosis to patients. The list is summarized below:
- Make sure that the same caregivers are seeing the patient throughout the process in order to ensure consistency and continuity in who is seen and what is said.
- Make sure that each patient is assigned a Clinical Nurse Specialist as soon as possible through the process.
- Make sure that those who are communicating the mesothelioma diagnosis are professionals who have expert knowledge and experience in treating and diagnosing mesothelioma, and have received specialized training on communicating to patients. This training should be updated regularly.
- The focus of communication should not be based on the disease, but on the patient and the way that they are responding to the news that they are receiving. Patience is essential, and professionals should assess whether those receiving news are overwhelmed. It is also important that the information be communicated directly rather than through pamphlets or booklets.
- There should be a care and communication plan in place prior to meeting with the patient, and the plan should include both how the news will be shared and what the patient’s treatment plan will be.
- Make sure that you are sharing the information in an area that is dedicated to the purpose. It should be private, quiet and comfortable, and there should be no interruption.
- Make sure that the process isn’t rushed and that the patient feels they have been given enough time.
- The news should be shared in an honest and direct way that is both realistic and provides some hope regarding quality of life and outcomes available through available treatment options, as well as clinical trials.
- Those communicating the information should include multiple resources and practitioners. The news should not be communicated by a single clinician.
- The patient should be made to feel like they are the center of the process and the most important person in the room.
The lessons learned through this study are expected to help mesothelioma patients and their families internationally. For additional support and information regarding your options and rights after a mesothelioma diagnosis, contact us today at 1-800-966-2244.