Doctor-Patient Communication and Cancer Screening Study

horizontal rule

Program Description
This project, officially named Using Effective Provider-Patient Communication to Improve Cancer Screening among Low Health Literacy Patients, was designed to help primary care physicians use effective cancer risk communication and shared decision making skills to improve patients' adherence to preventive health measures such as cancer screenings. Limited health literacy develops with improper understanding and knowledge about health risks and susceptibility. Eighteen primary care physicians from five (5) safety-net clinics in New Orleans, LA participated in a cluster randomized control trial to train physicians to effectively counsel patients with limited health literacy. The PI for this project is Eboni Price-Haywood, MD, MPH.

Clinical Care
Primary care practices (PCP) recommends doctor-patient communication for cancer screenings as it a strong predictor for adherence. PCP and physicians should continue to work to improve doctor-patient communication to facilitate understanding of cancer prevention concepts. Health care providers should pay special attention to identifying patients’ literacy level, encouraging patient questions during the encounter, checking for patient understanding before ending the encounter and developing systematic procedures for following up on patients’ comprehension and recall of recommendations and preferences for care if they remain non-adherent. 

Education/Workforce Development
The PI developed a physician training program based on general conceptual frameworks of health literacy and physician-patient communication. The study used unannounced standardized patients (SP) to observe and rate intervention physicians' communication behaviors. Intervention physicians underwent academic detailing with the PI and were then directed to an online tool to view SP ratings of the communication behaviors. 

The long-term objective of the trial is to assess whether change in physicians’ communication behavior is associated with patients’ receipt of age-and gender appropriate breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings.

Health Literacy & Cancer Prevention, Issue 2, May 2012
Health Literacy & Cancer Prevention, Issue 1, Dec. 2011


For more information on this program, please contact Jewel Harden-Barrios at 504-988-6044 or





This study was supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Harold Amos Faculty Development Program (#63523).


1430 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-988-7518