Videos Help Cancer Patients Understand Options

Terminal cancer patients who watched a video were less likely to want CPR

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Doctors can talk to patients until they are blue in the face, but sometimes a short video can convey the clearest message. End-stage cancer patients may benefit from video learning.

A recent study showed terminal cancer patients a short video of the act of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and a person on a breathing machine. After watching the video, patients had a better understanding of CPR.

“We need to provide all patients with the tools to understand their treatment options, especially for end-of-life care,” said one author.

"Talk to a doctor about your medical care preferences."

Angelo Volandes, MD, MPH, from the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, worked with a team for the investigation. For the study, 150 patients with advanced stage cancer between the ages of 51-73 were split into two groups.

There were 80 patients in the control group, which were asked to listen to a sound recording explaining the process of CPR and the odds of resuscitation. In the test group, 70 participants listened to the same sound recording, and also watched a 3-minute video.

The video showed a patient on a breathing machine and also the act of CPR being performed on a dummy. Each participant was asked, immediately after media exposure whether they would want to have CPR used on them and about their understanding of CPR.

Prior to watching the video, 54 percent of patients said they would want CPR.

Results of the study showed 48 percent of patients in the sound recording only group wanted CPR, 51 percent did not want CPR and 1 percent was not sure.

In the sound and video group, only 20 percent wanted CPR, 79 percent did not want CPR and 1 percent was not sure.

Understanding of CPR was 22 percent better by the video group than the sound recording only group. A total of 93 percent of the video group reported they were comfortable watching the video.

Dr. Volandes said, “Our results clearly show that educational videos can help supplement—not supplant—the patient/doctor relationship by reinforcing, not replacing, the conversations that must take place between doctors and patients.”

Visual aids can sometimes convey messages with an accuracy and reality that sound recordings cannot meet.

This study was published in December in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Funding support was provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. No conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
December 12, 2012
Last Updated:
December 19, 2012