While much is known about the initial communication of a definitive pediatric cancer diagnosis by the child’s pediatric oncologist, little is known about the discussions leading up to this formal conversation, which are often had with nononcologists. We sought to describe these initial conversations regarding the possibility of a child’s oncologic diagnosis, from the perspective of both the patient/family as well as the provider. Semistructured interviews were performed with individuals involved with a child with recently diagnosed cancer at a quaternary care institution in an urban, mid-Atlantic city. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using qualitative thematic analysis. In total, 71 people were interviewed, representing the experiences of 29 unique pediatric patients. Patient and caregiver themes included recognition of the urgency of the situation and variety of terms used to indicate the potential of cancer. Physician themes included the impact of health literacy on the discussion and varying opinions on how direct to be regarding the possibility of a cancer diagnosis. The initial discussions of the possibility of a pediatric cancer diagnosis often occur with nononcologists, and this day zero talk is critical in laying the groundwork for future communication with providers.
- Childhood cancer
- Health literacy
- physician communication
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health