A new study shows that an innovative communication program developed by Ariadne Labs and tested at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute resulted in more, earlier and better conversations between patients and their oncology clinicians, and led to significant reductions in emotional suffering for patients with advanced cancer. On average, patients and clinicians had a serious illness conversation 2.4 months earlier -- almost five months before death. The conversations were centered on what matters most to patients, with 90 percent of patients discussing goals and values.
As a result of the intervention, the proportion of patients with moderate to severe anxiety and depression was reduced by half, and the anxiety improvements were sustained for at least 24 weeks. The study was unable to demonstrate whether the conversations resulted in care that aligned with patient goals, or brought about greater peacefulness at the end of life. The intervention did not impact survival rates.