gms | German Medical Science

27th German Cancer Congress Berlin 2006

German Cancer Society (Frankfurt/M.)

22. - 26.03.2006, Berlin

Relationship between physician empathy and anxiety in patients with bronchial, esophagus, colorectal, breast, prostate and skin cancer

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Melanie Neumann - Zentrum für Versorgungsforschung Köln (ZVFK), Medizinische Fakultät der Universität zu Köln, Deutschland
  • Holger Pfaff - Institut und Poliklinik für Arbeitsmedizin, Sozialmedizin und Sozialhygiene, Universität zu Köln

27. Deutscher Krebskongress. Berlin, 22.-26.03.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. DocPE594

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published: March 20, 2006

© 2006 Neumann et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Background: The international research in the doctor-patient-relationship, mainly dominated by primary care studies, shows, that the quality of the doctor-patient-relationship has a significant influence on subjectively perceived psychosocial outcomes and on objective measured medical parameters. Also in oncology more and more studies show, that the physician empathy has a particularly positive influence on psychosocial outcomes. The research of the physician empathy and its influence on psychosocial outcomes in (cancer) patients finds hardly attention in the german-speaking countries up to now. The primary aim of this explorative, hypothesis-generating cross-sectional study is the empirical investigation of the relationship between physician empathy and psychosocial outcomes (e.g. anxiety, depression, quality of life) in patients with bronchial, esophagus, colorectal, breast, prostate and skin cancer.

Patients and methods: A sample of n=713 patients was selected, who were in the age between 18 and 75 years with the above-mentioned main diagnoses and who were treated between the 01.02. until to the 31.08.2005 in the University Clinic of Cologne. From September to November 2005 these patients were interviewed by post with a standardized questionnaire. This questionnaire was filled out by n=328 cancer patients. The patients should assess the physician empathy and their anxiety. In addition, such control variables (medical, personal and context factors) have been collected, that could distort the assessment of physician empathy and anxiety.

Expected results: This research is a "work in progress". The data is already collected and registered in a database, but the data analysis has not been finished. The results which are reported on the meeting, refer to the influence of the control variables on physician empathy and anxiety. Considering to these identified confounders, the connection between physician empathy and anxiety is described and discussed.

Discussion: The results of this study are supposed to answer the following questions: Which elements of the physician empathy (affective and/or cognitive) reduce particularly cancer patients anxiety? Can the anxiety be reduced also with a small time budget for empathy behaviour?