A masked doctor speaks with two nursing home residents
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Older adults with advanced bladder cancer want more transparent communications from their healthcare providers when it comes to their diagnosis, treatment and care planning, new research has found. 

While a common stereotype in cancer care is that older patients defer to the authority of their care provider, a recent study suggests these patients want to take more control and have prompt, forthright and transparent communications from their care providers.

“We learned that they really do want to be involved in discussions of their care and to have clear expectations for their treatment,” said Elizabeth Kessler, M.D., a University of Colorado Cancer Center member and associate professor of medical oncology in the CU School of Medicine, one of the study’s authors, in a news release. “They want to be engaged early in the process and not feel like they’re waiting or wishing for information.”

Kessler and her co-researchers interviewed 10 patients with advanced bladder cancer in study focus groups, with an average age of 74. 

In those interviews, study participants expressed a consistent desire for early, honest and transparent communication from caregivers, and more information on what to expect about changes to their physical abilities, mobility, and independence.

The researchers also found the patients not only valued information of their diagnosis and treatment with their doctors, but also discussions with other members of their care team such as nurses and medical assistants. 

“What we’ve found is that patients really do want to talk about their prognosis and treatment right from the beginning,” Kessler said. “Instead of focusing on alignment at end-of-life, now we’re looking at ways to come up with a treatment plan that better aligns care for people right from the start.”

The study appeared in a recent edition of the Journal of Geriatric Oncology