7 Scopus citations


Responding to emotion is a central function of communication in medicine. However, many clinicians miss opportunities to engage their patients’ emotions, and these lapses can negatively affect the patient's relationship with the clinician. As such, responding to emotion serves as a useful example of communication challenges in cancer care. The clinician's response to emotion is likely influenced by cognitive, social, economic, and cultural factors. In psychology, models of behavioral change seek to understand and predict how individuals will act in specific circumstances by incorporating these multiple determinants. However, behavioral change models have not been applied specifically or rigorously to clinicians’ communication behaviors in oncology. In this article, we argue that applying such models in oncology can provide benefits to clinicians and communication researchers. To frame this argument, we will apply the Information–Motivation–Behavioral Skills (IMBS) model of behavioral change to communication about emotion in oncology. We will then propose specific ways in which applying behavioral change models to communication can benefit clinicians and patients. Improving communication behaviors requires more than commonsense solutions. Behavioral change models might support the enactment of communication skills and knowledge, bridging the gap between “knowing” and “doing.”

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2344-2348
Number of pages5
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Behavioral change
  • Communication
  • Health behavior
  • Oncology
  • Physician-patient relationship


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