Keywords: Oncology; Doctor-Patient Communication; Bad News; Cancer Diagnosis.
The article investigates the communication practices of cancer diagnosis through the qualitative content analysis of 30 semi-structured interviews with cancer patients recruited in the day hospital of a city in central Italy. The research shows that 77% of the interviewees were informed of the diagnosis by the doctor, 13% received a communication mediated by the family and 10% received the information through the independent reading of the reports. Practices of cautious and evasive communication by doctors find a certain correspondence in the patients' preferences; 27% believe that information should be given in a personalized way evaluating case by case the possibility of partially informing the patient or postponing the communication. The results highlight the temporal dimension of the communication of the oncological diagnosis, which in literature is rather described as a dichotomous phenomenon and which instead is characterized here as a temporal continuum in which the execution of the treatments marks an important line of demarcation between a cautious communication and a late communication, which does not put the patient in a position to decide about her/his health.