Clinicians' perspectives on the functions of communication in pediatric oncology

Bryan A. Sisk, Ginny L. Schulz, Erica C. Kaye, Justin N. Baker, Jennifer W. Mack, James M. Dubois

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Parents previously identified eight core functions of communication with clinicians in pediatric oncology. Objective: To determine clinicians' views on communication functions in pediatric oncology. Design: In 10 focus groups with 59 clinicians at two academic centers, we asked open-ended questions about communication goals and purposes. Then we presented definitions of eight communication functions previously described by parents and explored clinicians' perspectives. Setting/Subjects: We performed separate focus groups for nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, and psychosocial professionals. Measurements: Thematic analysis of focus group transcripts. Results: Clinicians identified six functions in response to open-ended questions. After reviewing the eight functions described by parents, all clinicians agreed with the framework: building relationships, exchanging information, making decisions, enabling family self-management, managing uncertainty, responding to emotions, supporting hope, and providing validation. Conclusions: Pediatric oncology clinicians corroborated this functional communication framework. Clinicians and researchers can utilize this framework to guide care and research in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1545-1549
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • communication
  • palliative care
  • parents
  • pediatric oncology
  • physician-patient relationship


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